What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney and how important is it?

September 4th, 2015 Anna Moyers Stone
Power of attorney

Advance Directive.  Healthcare Power of Attorney.  Living Will.  Healthcare Proxy.  What are these documents?  Do you need them?  Do you have them already?  If so, do you know and like what they say?

Planning in your life, financial and otherwise, can also mean planning for the event of sudden illness or injury and, in some cases, end-of-life care.  Oftentimes, people do not wish to think about or address these situations, but completing a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPOA) can greatly benefit your family, friends, and health care providers in the future.

The HCPOA is most commonly used in Iowa when a person (the principal) names another individual (the agent) to make healthcare decisions on their behalf in the event that they cannot make such decisions for themselves.  For example, a wife could name her husband as her agent in her HCPOA and, should she become incapacitated, he could then direct her care.

Your HCPOA form should name an agent to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are not able to for yourself.  It should also give guidance to your agent on what you would like those decisions to be in certain situations.  Moreover, it would be helpful to you and your agent(s) to review the document and discuss your goals and expectations for how you want to live and the type of care that you would or would not want.  If your agent needs to act on your behalf, he or she will appreciate having the information so that he or she can confidently make the decisions that you would have wanted.

MidWestOne Bank is proud to support organizations in the communities we serve.  One such organization, Iowa City Hospice, started a special program called Honoring Your Wishes:  A Community-Wide Advance Care Planning Initiative.  Its mission is to promote an advance care planning process in which individuals’ health care preferences are discussed, documented, and honored by families, friends, and the health care community.

To learn more about advance care planning and to view their person-centered Health Care Directive, please go to www.honoringyourwishes.org, or contact your local Hospice organization for additional resources.

You, your health care agent, family, friends, and health care providers will appreciate that you planned and included them in the process.  It will help ensure that your health care preferences are honored.

Anna Moyers Stone

About the author

Anna Moyers Stone is Trust Officer at MidWestOne Bank. She helps customers manage and develop their estate plans – including trusts.

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