A Health Care Power of Attorney (also called a Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy) is a written document authorizing someone you name (your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact") to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. The document can also contain instructions or guidelines you want your agent to follow.


If you should ever lose your capacity to make or communicate decisions because of a temporary or permanent illness or injury, the Health Care Power of Attorney lets you retain some control over important health care decisions by choosing a person to make and communicate these decisions for you. Without a formally appointed person, many health care providers and institutions will make critical decisions for you, not necessarily based on what you would want. In some situations, a court- appointed guardian may become necessary unless you have a health care power of attorney, especially where the health care decision requires that money be spent for your care.

Your Health Care Power of Attorney can also include a statement of your wishes and preferences regarding specific medical decisions. The existence of the document can relieve some of the stress or conflict that otherwise might arise if family or friends have to decide on their own what you would want done when you cannot speak for yourself.


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