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What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney and Why Every Adult Needs One

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is a legal contract. It specifies who will make all of your medical decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself. This contract is called a “durable” power of attorney, which means that it goes into effect when you are unable to make your own health care decisions for yourself.

Why You Need a Health Care Power of Attorney

None of us wants to imagine  a day that we may not be able to participate in our medical decisions. If you are young and healthy, you may not think choosing someone as your medical power of attorney is necessary. But circumstances can change in a blink of an eye, whether it be because of an accident or a health emergency.
Consider thoughtfully who you might choose as health care power of attorney. For example, here are some characteristics of a person to name:
  • Thinks Clearly in Emotional Situations. Who is able to make rational decisions under stress? Who can maintain their cool in a sensitive situation or with family conflict? 
  • Understands Medical Lingo. Choose a friend or family member who can follow along as the doctors and nurses describe your situation and the choices for treatment. If they become confused and overwhelmed with information outside of their field of expertise, choose someone who may be better equipped to understand (or do the research).
  • Has Your Best Interest in Mind. Pick a person who you can trust to think of all aspects of your life. They may need to consider your occupation or your family’s needs. Maybe someone who needs to inherit your money is not the best person to be making your health care decisions.
  • Has a Full Understanding of Your Medical Wishes. Spend time talking with the person to discuss your health care power of attorney and to go through possible scenarios. Tell the person about your values and wishes. Tell them about your spiritual beliefs. Share medical procedures and decisions  you definitely would want. And tell them things you absolutely would not want.


A health care power of attorney names someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to make those decisions yourself. When choosing someone to name, think of someone that knows you well. The person should be someone you trust to make your healthcare decisions for you based on your personal wishes and values. This may or may not be a family member. Keep in mind that some of the decisions your health care power of attorney will need to make will be difficult. It might be difficult for someone family members to overcome their own emotions and make decisions that are in your best interest or based on your values.

Do you have your affairs in order if something were to happen to you? Don’t delay appointing a health care power of attorney. We can help you with the process. 

Get started by scheduling a Strategy Session using the link below. 


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.