Living with Chronic Pain
What Is a Power of Attorney for Health Care (Personal Care)?
A power of attorney is a written, legal document giving a person or organization the authority to make personal care decisions on an individual's behalf if they become incapable of making their own decisions. There are two types of power of attorney: personal care and property. Personal care power of attorney includes health care, medical treatment, nutrition, housing, clothing, hygiene, etc.
A power of attorney should be established prior to services being needed. A trusted person, such as a spouse, family member, or long-time friend, should be appointed as the attorney or agent. They should be informed of the individual's wishes in order to make appropriate decisions when necessary.
Individuals may consider having more than one person with decision-making rights; however, it should be made clear if they are to work independently or must make joint decisions. The appointed agent(s) should also ensure a person’s living will (if existent) is adhered to.
United States power of attorney
In the United States, a health care power of attorney is established by utilizing a “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions” form. The agent, sometimes known as a health care proxy, must be at least 18 years old. Both the individual and agent must be of sound mind when signing the power of attorney. It must be signed in the presence of witnesses or be notarized. Legality laws of a power of attorney may differ depending on the state of residency.
Canada power of attorney
In Canada, the power of attorney agent must be designated in writing. An individual can write the power of attorney document themselves, or have a lawyer do it. The appointed agent must be 16 years of age or older and not paid to provide care for the individual. Both the individual and agent must be of sound mind when signing the power of attorney. It must be signed in the presence of witnesses, with at least two witnesses also signing. Legality laws of a power of attorney may differ depending on the territory or province of residency.