In the third video of the Coronavirus preparedness series, Wes Coulson discusses the importance of having a healthcare power of attorney.
In another video, I’ve suggested that one of the documents you really need to have in place right now is a power of attorney for healthcare. So what I want to talk about now is why that’s the case. What are the risks and consequences not having one in place?
The first thing should be obvious, and that is that you don’t have anyone who is in charge of being able to make and carry out healthcare decisions on your behalf, because no one is going to have that legal authority. You may have someone in mind. The law may not have in mind that same person, and so another important aspect is your ability to choose who that is.
There is a law called HIPPA that protects the privacy of medical information. Our power of attorney form is also a HIPPA release and so even getting medical information available, getting it from one healthcare provider to another (which could be really important,) is going to be something that you need to have someone who has the legal authority to do.
One of the risks that you have right now is whether to be put on a ventilator, whether to stay on a ventilator, and that is one of those things that is traditionally an end of life issue but right now maybe a end of life or help you through this issue, and you want to be able to give direction on that.
The biggest though, and most severe consequence of not having one in place, is that there are only two people in the world who can give someone the authority to make and carry out healthcare decisions for you. One is you, and that is a power of attorney for healthcare. The other, unfortunately, is a judge and that’s going to take a guardianship proceeding, and you’re talking about something that is really really expensive and very time consuming. If more than one person wants to do it, it could be contested and just get completely out of control.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of time, effort, or expense to get healthcare power of attorney in place, and by golly the consequences of not having one can be really bad. So do yourself a favor and get it done.
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