Complete a Medical Power of Attorney Document

A Medical Power of Attorney is a document everyone should have. In Wisconsin, the document written by the state is called a Health Care Power of Attorney.

You make your own health care decisions as long as you are able to communicate. If there comes a time when you cannot do so, an agent can speak for you.

You may choose your health care agent and alternate agent(s), but you must do so in writing. You complete and sign, with two witnesses, a Health Care Power of Attorney document.

In this medical power of attorney document, you are asked to answer a few questions about the authority you are giving your agent. You are asked, for example, whether you want your agent to be able to withdraw life sustaining procedures in certain circumstances.

Because this document has certain requirements of witnessing, and because the questions in the document can be confusing, you should seek guidance when completing the form.

Most people believe they would have the authority to speak for their spouses, partners and children if a health emergency left their loved one unable to make their own decisions. Legally, this is not true. You are not able to speak for anyone who is eighteen or older unless they have named you, in writing, as their agent, or unless a court has named you to be their guardian.

As a practical matter, the emergency doctors may ask you for guidance in the care of your loved one, but technically, you need legal authority to make decisions for another person.

This step in your planning is more important than having a will or trust. You don't want your family members to have to go to court to be able to take care of you.

Two more documents are important in your health care planning. A Living Will gives guidance to your health care agent and a HIPAA release lists who may have information about your health status.

Seek the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure you have the needed health care documents in place for you and your family. You will be glad you did!

In Wisconsin, contact Patricia McKinney-Lins at Neider & Boucher, S.C. (608) 661-4500 to make an appointment for your medical power of attorney .

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