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Understanding Medical Power of Attorney: What You Need to Know


Accidents and medical emergencies happen every day and many are impossible to predict. When you choose your medical power of attorney, you are enabling someone to make the important medical decisions for you.

There is much to learn about Medical POA and when it is in your best interest to use it, like in the event of a medical emergency or the like. Having a comprehensive medical plan will help you out in any potential healthcare situation where you are unable to take care of yourself. This article will give you the outline of how a medical POA works and when you should set it up.

What Does Medical Power of Attorney Mean?

A regular power of attorney is when you appoint someone of your choosing as your representative which gives that person the power to act on your behalf. This is a legal document that is upheld by the law and different kinds of power of attorney are available to use in certain situations in your life. A Medical Power of Attorney is one.

What Does a Medical POA Have Authority Over?

With Medical Power of Attorney, you appoint a person, often called an attorney-in-fact or agent, giving them the power to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are sick, incapacitated and/or can’t make decisions on your own. When you give someone medical power of attorney, it is so they can make important decisions about your medical care, such as treatment options, medication, surgery, end-of-life care, and whatever else you deem necessary.

Sometimes, a regular power of attorney is nondurable, meaning this power of attorney expires and is no longer valid if you become incapacitated. Medical power of attorney is durable, meaning it doesn’t expire if you become impaired and won’t go into effect until then as well. 

When Does Your Medical POA Take Effect?

When you make a durable medical POA, it will typically take effect as soon as you become incapacitated. This could mean when you are:

  • Put under general anesthesia
  • Diagnosed with illness that has left you unable to communicate, i.e. a stroke
  • In an accident that has left you in a coma or unconscious
  • Suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia that impacts your ability to make decisions

Why Should I Set Up a Medical POA?

Setting up a medical power of attorney will be an asset if and when you need it. Here are some of the main reasons to get yourself one:

Gives You Peace of Mind

If you ever have a bad accident or become too ill to care for yourself, someone will have to step up to care for you and make your medical decisions. This way, you can be sure that the person making the decision about your health knows exactly what you want and gives your loved ones a break in an already difficult time.

Keeps You Safe During Procedures

If you are going to have a surgery, appointing an agent to take care of you while under anesthesia can be helpful as you will not be able to consent to anything while incapacitated. You can always choose for the medical POA to end as soon as you are awake and recovering.

What to Look For in an Attorney-In-Fact 

It’s especially important to choose carefully when you are considering the person you will appoint to be your attorney-in-fact under your medical power of attorney. While the language may make you think you need to appoint an actual attorney to be your medical POA, that is incorrect. You just need to appoint someone you can trust and who will have your best interest at heart during your difficult time. Many people appoint a family member or close friend as their attorney-in-fact.

No matter what, trust is the number one factor so make sure you let the person know all of your wishes and that they will stick to them no matter what.

Get the Quality Legal Help You Deserve

At Brackin Law Firm, our expert attorneys can assist you or your loved ones with planning for long term care and ensuring that your medical needs are met should the time come when you or your family member can no longer care for themselves.

An experienced power of attorney lawyer can help you address legal matters that can affect your quality of life and health. You’ll need an expert to interpret complex Alabama laws and you’ll want the very best to help you plan for your loved ones.

We will work with you to ensure that your future is laid out in writing. If you need a skilled attorney specializing in all types of power of attorney, estate planning, or living wills, contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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