The COVID-19 pandemic has led many people to view their current and future health in a new light. This disease can severely impact even healthy individuals and cause long-term health complications. Studies have shown that even those who recover from COVID-19 can still suffer from lingering heart and lung problems.
If you are concerned about your potential exposure to the disease, discussing a Medical Power of Attorney (POA) with an experienced lawyer could bring you peace of mind. This document gives another person the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated due to an illness, such as COVID-19. POAs grant a significant amount of authority, so it is important to consult a skilled attorney before creating one.
What is a Medical Power of Attorney?
A Medical Power of Attorney is a legal document that grants power to another person. Normally, every person has the right to make decisions about their own health care. However, a Medical POA places these decisions into the hands of another person.
These documents only carry a legal effect if you are unable to make decisions on your own. In other words, a Medical POA has no legal effect unless you become incapacitated, so there is no risk in having this type of document as a protective measure during the pandemic.
Once a doctor declares that a person is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of making informed decisions, the holder of the Power of Attorney can present the paperwork. As long as it is genuine, the doctor must consult the holder for decisions concerning the medical care of the incapacitated individual.
The Importance of a Medical Power of Attorney During COVID-19
COVID-19 has the potential to inflict severe symptoms, many of which may place people in a coma or on a ventilator. Sadly, these patients may be unresponsive or otherwise unable to make decisions concerning their own treatment. In these cases, having a Medical Power of Attorney is crucial to protect a person’s wishes for their health care.
A doctor who receives a Medical POA has an obligation to respect its terms. They will ask the holder of the document what treatment they consider to be appropriate for the patient. This can include putting the person on a ventilator, using an experimental path of treatment, or allowing nature to take its course.
Clearly, it is important to choose a trustworthy person to hold your Medical Power of Attorney. You should also discuss your medical wishes for specific circumstances with that party before signing the paperwork. However, be aware that once the paperwork goes into effect, the holder is under no obligation to follow your prior instructions. This makes it all the more important to choose the right person to serve in this role.
Consult a Lawyer on Medical Powers of Attorney During COVID-19
Medical Powers of Attorney are powerful documents that grant significant powers to other people. Decisions regarding your medical care should not be taken lightly, so you should carefully consider who you wish to entrust with this responsibility.
Still, there are many benefits of having a Medical Power of Attorney as a protective measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact a seasoned lawyer today to learn more about this estate planning tool.