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Estate Planning

Craft Your Care: Colorado Durable Medical Power of Attorney Steps

Introduction to Medical POA

Understanding the Importance of a Medical Power of Attorney

A Medical Power of Attorney (POA) empowers you to have a say in your healthcare when you cannot speak for yourself. It’s like an insurance policy for your medical preferences, ensuring your wishes don’t get lost if you’re unable to communicate.

The Role of Medical POA in Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honored

When you establish a Medical Power of Attorney, often referred to as an attorney directive, you ensure that your healthcare preferences are known and respected. Your appointed agent, well-versed in your beliefs and wishes, will have the authority to make critical decisions on your behalf, aligning with what you would have chosen for yourself.

Deciphering the Basics of Medical Power of Attorney

Definition: What is a Medical POA?

A Medical Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document in which you appoint a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. This carefully chosen representative, often referred to as your healthcare agent or proxy, can decide on medical treatments, surgical procedures, and end-of-life care, ensuring your healthcare choices are heard and executed.

Medical POA vs. Financial POA: Knowing the Difference

Understanding the distinctions between a Medical POA and a Financial POA is essential. A Medical POA pertains strictly to healthcare decisions, including treatment options and life-support measures. Conversely, a Financial POA grants an agent authority over your financial matters, such as managing assets, paying bills, and conducting business transactions. Both serve unique and vital roles in protecting your interests, but operate independently in their respective realms.

Setting Up a Medical Power of Attorney

Choosing Your Agent: Who Should You Trust?

Selecting your agent or guardian is a pivotal decision in creating a Medical POA. Trust should be your guiding principle—choose an individual who thoroughly understands and respects your healthcare preferences. They should be willing and able to act on difficult decisions, even in stressful situations. While relatives or close friends are common choices, it’s vital that they can detach personal feelings and prioritize your wishes. Have an open dialogue to ensure they’re prepared for the responsibility as your healthcare guardian.

Powers and Limitations of Your Agent

What Decisions Can Your Healthcare Agent Legally Make?

Your healthcare agent, also acting as a guardian of your well-being, can make a comprehensive range of decisions with your consent, including admitting or discharging you from medical facilities, choosing treatments, and managing access to your medical records. It’s critical that they make these decisions aligned with your preferences and only when you cannot do so yourself. With your consent, you have the freedom to detail specific powers such as choices about surgical treatments, psychiatric care, and even organ donation, to ensure clarity in your care.

Limitations: Understanding the Boundaries of an Agent’s Authority

The agent’s authority under a Medical POA has its boundaries. They must act in good faith within the scope of authority you’ve granted and cannot override predefined limitations you set. For instance, an agent cannot make decisions that conflict with known wishes you’ve communicated, and they’re bound by healthcare laws and regulations. Additionally, some decisions like non-delegable rights (e.g., voting) remain yours alone.

Common Misconceptions and Considerations

Debunking Myths Surrounding Medical POAs

Several myths in Denver may cause confusion about Medical POAs. One common misconception we see at Colorado Wills and Estates is that they are solely for the elderly, but adults of any age can benefit from having one in the Denver area. Another is the fallacy that a spouse automatically has decision-making power; without a POA, this isn’t always guaranteed, even in Denver. Also, some believe only those with wealth need a POA; however, medical decisions transcend financial status. Clearing up these myths encourages everyone in Denver to consider the practicality of a Medical POA.

Critical Factors to Contemplate Before Appointing a POA

Before appointing someone as your Medical POA, mull over some crucial factors. Assess their:

  • willingness to take on this responsibility,
  • understanding of your healthcare wishes,
  • and availability in emergencies

Ensure they can handle the pressure of making tough decisions under duress. Consider discussing your medical values and treatment preferences with them beforehand, so they feel prepared to act on your behalf if needed. It may also be beneficial to compile these discussions and preferences on a secure website, where they can be easily accessed when critical decisions need to be made.

When and Why a Medical POA Becomes Essential

Preparing for Unexpected Health Crises

No one expects an emergency, but everyone can plan for one. A Medical POA is especially vital in unforeseen health crises where you may become incapacitated and unable to articulate your medical care preferences. This ensures that in the event of your incapacity, by designating a healthcare agent ahead of time, you ensure that your treatment aligns with your values and wishes, even if you’re unable to communicate them directly.

Addressing Degenerative Diseases and Major Medical Procedures

For those diagnosed with degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or ALS, or those facing major medical procedures, a Medical POA (MDPOA) becomes critical. Early planning allows you to articulate your healthcare decisions while you can still express your wishes clearly. This preemptive step provides peace of mind, knowing that your health preferences will be respected during the disease’s progression or throughout the recovery process from significant surgery.

“After years of battling a degenerative illness, I found myself teetering on the edge of the inevitable,” recounted our client, who, after a heart-wrenching fight with early-onset Alzheimer’s, slipped into a coma. The relief in ensuring his affairs were in order, including the establishment of an MDPOA, before this medical crisis cannot be understated. He had met with an estate planning attorney and arranged for this Medical Power of Attorney, granting a trusted relative the authority to make healthcare decisions on his behalf. This foresight gave him a semblance of control and solace amidst the chaos of his deteriorating condition.


How Do I Start the Process of Obtaining a Medical POA?

To start obtaining a Medical POA, we highly recommend contacting a skilled wills and estate lawyer. We can assist in choosing a trusted healthcare agent and ensure they’re willing to accept the role. Next, we’ll secure a Medical POA form, fill it out according to Colorado’s regulations, and have it properly witnessed and notarized. Finally, we can distribute copies to your agent, family members, and healthcare providers, keeping the original in a safe place.

Can a Medical POA Decision Be Overridden by Family or Doctors?

No, a Medical POA decision cannot typically be overridden by family or doctors if it reflects your explicit instructions. Your doctor must honor your appointed agent’s decisions, as they legally represent your healthcare preferences. However, if there are concerns about the agent not acting in your best interest, legal intervention may be sought.

Is There a Standard Form for Creating a Medical POA?

Yes, there is a standard form for creating a Medical POA, often provided by state health departments or attorney offices. These forms must be completed according to the specific legal requirements of Colorado, which may include notarization and witnesses. However, it’s essential to ensure that the standard form aligns with all your healthcare wishes.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Have a Medical POA?

If you don’t have a Medical POA, consider reaching out to our estate planning law firm right away. Creating this as soon as possible can ensure your medical care preferences are followed in case you cannot communicate them. In the meantime, discuss your healthcare wishes with your loved ones to guide them should an unexpected situation arise. It’s also wise to consult with an attorney to understand the implications and steps needed to protect your healthcare decisions.