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Power of Attorney: The 3 POA Documents That Everyone Needs
COVID-19 affects everyone differently. While some people are minimally affected, others experience adverse reactions that impact their ability to breathe independently. More than 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, and many of these victims were not prepared for such a tragedy. Who was, really? However, not being prepared by having certain power of attorney documents had a few adverse implications: (a) for many, their medical treatment and the handling of their finances were not aligned with their wishes and/or beliefs; and (b) surviving family members carried the burden of making uninformed medical and financial decisions for their loved ones.
If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything at all, it is to always be prepared for the unexpected, and a medical and financial power of attorney (or POA) can help you do just that. It’s better to be prepared for tragedy and it to nothappen, than to face a tragedy unprepared.
A POA is a legal document that appoints an agent (of your choosing) to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. There are three different types of POA that are meant for varying situations.
Medical Power of Attorney
The medical power of attorney is when you appoint an individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If an illness or injury has left you incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself, then this is where a medical power of attorney would step in. With the medical power of attorney, you would essentially leave instructions on how you would want your medical care handled if you were unable to make decisions for yourself. For example, you can leave a do-not-resuscitate order, state that you do not want a feeding tube, or even that you want all medical options debilitated and request that your agent follow these instructions. These instructions should be left with someone you trust who can weigh the options of your medical care and legally make a sound decision based on your instructions.
Having a medical power of attorney is imperative to saving your family the stress of having to make these decisions on your behalf.
HIPAA Power of Attorney
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a federal law that was created to protect sensitive patient medical information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge or consent.
While a medical power of attorney does grant the designee the ability to make decisions on your behalf, some medical providers may be reluctant to provide patient details due to HIPAA violations and penalties. This is where the HIPAA power of attorney comes into play and allows your designee to receive and be made aware of personal health information so that they can make sound decisions in accordance with your wishes.\
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney allows the designated person to make financial and business decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney is an extremely flexible but important document. It can be temporary or permanent. For example, you can set up a limited power of attorney when closing on a new home. Once the home buying process is complete, so is the POA. A durable power of attorney can also be permanent and can be effective immediately or only upon your incapacity.. Therefore, your agent can pay your bills and make business decisions only if you are not of sound mind or are incapacitated or they can assist you immediately – it all depends on how you execute the POA.
The durable power of attorney is one of the most important documents you can have because, if you were incapacitated or unable to manage your affairs, the court would need to appoint someone to handle your affairs—and this would happen without your input. A durable power of attorney keeps the power in your hands by allowing you to appoint someone you trust to step in when you need it most.
There is no better time than now to set up your power of attorney. Contact us to discuss your power of attorney or complete the brief form below to send a message to our legal team.