Health Care Powers of Attorney


A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document in which one person (called the "Principal) grants authority to another person (called the "Agent") to make health care decisions for the Principal in the event the Principal cannot make his/her own health care decisions. 


A Health Care POA also may contain the Principal's directives with regard to the withholding or termination of life-support.  Generally, however, such life-support directives are contained in a separate document called a Living Will. 


Key Decisions

There are 2 key decisions that you must make when creating a Health Care Power of Attorney: 

1) Who is authorized to make the determination that you are not capable of making your own health care decisions?  Typically the person authorized to make this determination is your family physician or a treating physician.  However, there's no reason why family members or close friends cannot participate in this decision or have sole authority to decide.


2) Who will make your health care decisions after it's been determined that you cannot?  In making this decision you should consider the following with regard to your particular family situation:


  • Is it appropriate to appoint more than one individual, and if so, how many?

  • If you appoint two individuals, is agreement between them required or can they act independently of each other?

  • If more than 2, is unanimous agreement required or does the majority decide?

While choosing someone with a medical background to make your health care decisions might be appropriate, what's more important is to choose someone who has the ability to ask your physicians the right questions and make well-reasoned decisions.

This website and all materials appearing herein are presented solely for educational purposes and cannot be relied upon by anyone for elder law, estate planning, tax or any other purpose.  You must seek advice from competent legal, financial and tax advisors before attempting any form of elder law planning or any other form of estate planning.  Nothing presented on this website implies or creates an attorney-client relationship between a site visitor and the author, Jay H. Krall.  Attorney Krall is licensed by the North Carolina State Bar and not in any other state.  Links to other internet sites are not endorsements of any products or services described at those sites.   

Circular 230 Disclosure: Pursuant to U.S. Treasury Department Regulations, we are required to advise you that, unless otherwise expressly indicated, any federal tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended or written to be used, and may not be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.

© 2020 Jay H. Krall,  Attorney at Law

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