A power of attorney is a legal form that allows how you to choose a person to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. You give your “agent” or “approved decision-maker” the legal power (power of attorney) to make certain decisions for you.
People sometimes have a power of attorney for financial (money) decisions, but you can—and should—also have a power of attorney for health care. That’s because a financial agent cannot make decisions about health care, and a health care agent cannot make decisions about money. You may not want the same person to have both powers.
A Power of Attorney for Health Care agent should be a person you know well and would trust to make decisions about matters such as surgery, therapies, medicines, when to use emergency treatment or go to the hospital, and whether and when to move you into a long-term care facility. For this document to be valid, you and two witnesses must sign at the same time. Witnesses cannot be relatives, financial or health care agents, or a current health-care giver.
This document will not be used until you need it; your agent cannot make decisions for you right away.