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What Is Power Of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that is critical in estate planning or planning for unexpected events in life that may leave someone unable to make decisions for themselves. For example, suppose someone is suddenly incapacitated from an accident or even declining mental fortitude as a result of a degenerative disease. In that case, they may be unable to make legally binding decisions regarding their own healthcare, financial decisions, or other considerations that require mental competence to make a legally binding decision.

This can be incredibly important in the event of an accident since if the injured party has been incapacitated, they may no longer be able to make decisions about their treatment or end-of-life care. A power of attorney allows an individual to appoint a trusted person close to them to act in their best interest in such an event and is a critical healthcare planning document.

What Is A Healthcare Proxy?

A healthcare proxy is a specific legal document that allows an individual to choose a trusted individual close to them to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to for any reason. The person chosen for this role is expected to act in accordance with the choices you would have made if you were able. For example, suppose you become incapacitated due to an auto accident or some other tragedy or unfortunate decline in mental capacity. In that case, this individual will act in accordance with your wishes when making decisions regarding your healthcare and treatment if you cannot choose for yourself.

By establishing this document early, you can ensure that you will be protected in the case of an unexpected event, and your wishes, values, and beliefs will be protected. However, it is crucial to establish this document before it is too late since you must be in sound mind to do so.

What Is The Difference Between A Healthcare Proxy And A Power Of Attorney?

Understanding the difference between a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney is critical when planning for tragic and unexpected events that may occur at any time. A power of attorney, for example, can appoint trusted individuals to make legal decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated or are unable to do so. These decisions can range anywhere from financial decisions, estate planning decisions, and a range of other important considerations.

However, while similar, a healthcare proxy is a more specialized document, allowing someone to appoint a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions in accordance with what they would have wanted if they were able at the time of the decision. This can come into play if someone is a victim of a tragic accident, leaving them incapacitated or are in poor mental health and are unable to make any legally binding specifically medical decisions due to their current mental state.

What Is The Best Way To Avoid Conflict Between A Power Of Attorney And A Healthcare Proxy?

Since the two are so similar, there are chances for overlap to occur, creating sources for possible conflict in situations where there are conflicting reflections of choice. However, there are several options when it comes to reducing this possibility. First, it is ideal to make the same individual the trusted choice on both documents, so there cannot be a potential conflict if the trustee of a financial power of attorney disagrees about the wishes or what the trustee on a healthcare proxy thinks is best for the person in question. However, if this is not the case, there are always other options available to reduce conflict. It is usually best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible in these situations since they will be able to advise the trusted individuals on how best to resolve the conflict efficiently, allowing them to make the choices required of them in the best interest of the victim.

Joanne Schlenk McAvey Esq.

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