Neider & Boucher supports Governor Walker’s efforts to increase the awareness and importance of advanced care planning. Attorney Maggie Premo explains why we encourage our clients to document their health care wishes:
In a Power of Attorney for Health Care document you may designate an agent and backup agent(s) to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make your own health care decisions. An agent will use his or her own judgment, hopefully based on prior conversations with you, to make health care decisions in your stead.
A Health Care Power of Attorney document is very important for everyone to have in place. The most famous example of what can go wrong if you do not have one is the case of Terri Schiavo. Terri Schiavo lingered for years in a hospital while her husband and parents fought over medical decisions. If she would have named an agent to make those decisions on her behalf, the protracted legal battle could have been avoided.
The most important consideration when choosing an agent is whether you trust the person you appoint. You should never designate anyone that you feel would not make health care decisions on your behalf that align with your wishes and values. You want to choose someone who you feel confident will honor what you would choose for health care treatment if you were capable of making the decisions yourself.
Discussions about health care and the end of your life can be scary and awkward, so you should select an agent who you can speak openly and honestly with about the topic. This is just as much for you as it is for your agent. If the time comes for your agent to make a decision on your behalf, these prior discussions will provide your agent with the confidence and peace of mind that the decisions align with your wishes.