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Durable Health Care Powers of Attorney

A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to express in detail your wishes with respect to your personal care and medical treatment should you ever become unable to express them or communicate them at a later time. As with a power of attorney for managing your property, you can make the instrument effective immediately upon signing or you can spell out conditions which must first occur for it to become effective.

Some people may have very specific and definite feelings about the use of certain medical procedures.  Many also have strong feelings about remaining in their home for as long as it may be possible.  It is possible to express those feelings and provide advance direction to your agent through the use of a durable health care power of attorney.

Even where family members or friends are aware of a person’s wishes, powers of attorney are still important because they are principally intended to show third parties, such as physicians, what your wishes would be if you were able to express them yourself, and to demonstrate to those third parties that you have intentionally granted legal authority to your agent to make these decisions or express your intent for you. Without such legal documentation, health care providers may be reluctant to accept the representations of friends or family members with respect to your wishes about the use or withholding of certain kinds of treatments.

In some circumstances, for reasons of privacy or personal preference, it may be desirable to have more than one power of attorney with different agents for each. You may wish to have one power of attorney for the management of your financial and business affairs, another for management of your personal and health care, or a single, comprehensive instrument for both.

Powers of attorney can be valuable lifetime and estate planning tools, but it is important to remember that they have limitations. With an understanding of how the courts and third parties interpret them, powers of attorney can be drafted to meet most situations which your Agent may face while acting on your behalf.

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