Generally speaking, no one can make medical decisions for someone other than the person themself. There is the obvious exception of children, as parents are allowed to make choices for them when they are minors. Adults, however, hold the key to their own medical care.
Unfortunately, there are cases where people cannot make these important decisions for themselves. For instance, someone could be involved in a car accident and arrive at the hospital in a coma, unable to talk to the doctors. Or an elderly person could have a stoke and remain alert but without the ability to communicate. These are just a few examples of many possibilities.
In cases like these, a medical power of attorney becomes important. A power of attorney is a legal document that allocates the decision-making power to a third party or an agent. If a person can’t make their own choices, their designated agent gets the legal right to do so. If the injured party regains the ability to communicate, that power reverts to them.
There are other ways to address this, such as through an advance directive. While an advance directive does give instructions about the medical care that someone does and does not want, though, it’s not as dynamic as a power of attorney. Picking an agent means they can react to the situation and make choices in real-time, rather than just going off of what was decided before anyone knew what was going to happen.
Creating a medical power of attorney can be an important part of the estate planning process, and it is crucial to know exactly what steps you need to take to get it right. Make sure that you have experienced assistance with your estate plans, including any powers of attorney you may need.