Close your eyes for a moment. Now imagine you find yourself waking up in the hospital and you can’t remember what happened or how you got there. To make matters even worse, you see your soon to be ex-husband talking to the nurse and then you remember that you never changed your Health Care Power of Attorney.
If you don’t want this scenario to ever happen, get out your Divorce To Do List right now and mark at the very top of the list to change your Health Care Power of Attorney and remove your soon to be ex-husband. Take this time to designate someone you trust to make and carry out all health care decisions on your behalf even during the separation period.
Unfortunately many people, whether they are divorced or not, fail to even have a Health Care Power of Attorney (POA). A Health Care POA only goes into effect when you are incapacitated and allows your designated Health Care Agent to make medical decisions in your best interest if you are unable to do so. They will be legally allowed to sign the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Release Form known as (HIPAA) — giving them immediate access to your health records and allowing them to speak directly to your doctors on your behalf regarding your care and well-being.
When you designate a Health Care POA, you can be very specific about what decisions you are giving them the power to make on your behalf by also activating a Living Will. A Living Will is a legal document that a person uses to make his or her wishes known regarding life prolonging medical treatments. As your designated Health Care Agent, you can give them the power to make any and all end of life decisions. They can be authorized to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging measures including artificial life support or nutrition and hydration.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Take the time now while you are healthy and fully alertto designate who you want to make decisions for you and represent your best interests and wishes if you are unable to do so.