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Posted By Emre Umar

There may come a time in your life that you will not be able to make medical decisions for yourself. During that time, you will need someone, a loved one with your best interests at heart, to make these decisions for you. You will need someone to be your medical power of attorney. There are a few steps that will need to happen to make this a possibility:

1. Determine whether you need to create medical power of attorney

There may come a time when you are not able to make your own medical decisions and processes must be put in place that will allow you to get the medical treatment you would like. You will first need to decide to create your living will, which also might be called an “advance medical directive.” This document will spell out exactly how you want to be taken care of should you be unable to say that yourself. It also allows you to assign someone to be your agent (also known as a surrogate or a patient advocate). This person will be responsible for taking care of your best interests that are not stated in your living will.

2. Creating a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

This document will allow you to answer how you would like to be treated if a common medical crisis arises. It is important to know that this document is valid in many states but is not valid in all states, so be sure to check with your state laws before relying on this. You can fill this document out with your physician, and he/she will sign it once the document is completed. Be sure to send your completed form to your state’s POLST registry so it will accessible to a doctor should the need arise.

3. Recognize the varieties of power of attorney

A springing (or conditional) power of attorney will only become active if you become incapacitated for a certain set of circumstances happens. On the other end, a durable power of attorney will become effective immediately after the decision is made.

4. Be cautious when deciding who will be your medical power of attorney

There are many people you know in your life and not all of them should have medical power of attorney over your wellbeing. It is important to be cautious when choosing this person. This person should be assertive, live within a reasonable number of miles, and know what your ultimate wishes are.

5. Consult with an attorney

It is important to get your attorney to draft your medical power of attorney document. He or she will be able to run through different potential situations that may occur and what treatment you would like in those situations.

6. Fill out the medical power of attorney form

There are templates of the form online which are easily accessible so you could draft the medical power of attorney yourself, if you choose to. Each state should also have an available form that should be on the state’s Department of Human Services website.

7. Have your form notarized

You will need to take your completed form to a notary and sign it in front of the notary. Usually, a notary can be found at a bank or a hospital. You will need to provide valid personal identification and so will any witnesses.

8. Distribute copies of the finalized form to those who need it

You should consider distributing copies to:

  • Your primary physician
  • Your attorney
  • Close family members or friends
  • A hospital or clinic that you receive treatment

9. Keep your form

There is not a state department that can store this sensitive information for you. It is your responsibility to keep it in a safe and secure place. However, be sure that this secure place is also a place that will allow others to get access to it should the need arise. 

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