End of life choices are painful to think about, much less decide. Yet, the unfortunate reality is that every day loved ones are forced to make these painful decisions on behalf of a parent, a spouse, or a special friend or family member. Advanced medical directives can’t take away the pain of losing a loved one, but they can at least reassure the person burdened with making those difficult decisions that a loved one’s wishes are being honored.

A good power of attorney for health care takes a “belt and suspenders” approach to medical directives. The document should include all of the following:

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
    Similar to a durable power of attorney for your financial and personal affairs, this document allows you to designate a patient advocate who will make your health care decisions when you are incapacitated.
  • Living Will
    Your “Living Will” instructs your patient advocate regarding your end of life decisions. A Living Will provides you the opportunity to determine if, and to what extent, you want your life to be sustained by artificial means if you are in an irreversible coma or a persistent vegetative state.
  • HIPAA Authorization
    Absent your written authorization, doctors are prohibited by state and federal law to share your medical information with anyone. A HIPAA Authorization allows doctors to share your medical information only with those you specify.

We advise that you provide a copy of your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care to your physician to be kept with your medical records.