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The Importance Of A Health Care Power of Attorney


    Most clients have a basic understanding of what a Health Care Power of Attorney does and why it is a necessary part of their estate plan. Essentially, the document names another person to make health care decisions for you after you are deemed incompetent or unable to communicate your decisions.

    Here are a few tips to make your Health Care Power of Attorney more effective:

    Designate more than one health care agent. If your physician cannot contact your listed health care agent you need to have a second or third choice available. Your health care agent might out of the country or busy at work when you need them most. Make sure to choose a health care agent who lives near in your surrounding area.

    Register your Health Care Power of Attorney with the Secretary of State. North Carolina has established an Advance Health Care Directive Registry, which allows residents to register their health care documents. Your documents are available over the internet at any time. To protect your privacy, only you and your family members have access to the documents. While your documents are valid with or without the directory, it is advisable to register your documents. For more information about registering your documents visit: http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/ahcdr/

    If you have special requests for the disposition of your remains after your death, make sure to specify them to your health care agent in the document. Common sense suggests that a will is the best place to put information relating to your burial or cremation. Practically, however, a will is often reviewed after the burial is completed. A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate your agent with the authority to conduct preparations for burial. Although your Health Care Power of Attorney is only effective while you are alive, the agent’s authority to make preparations for burial or cremation continues after the death of the principal.

    Have a candid discussion of your wishes with your health care agent(s). Drafting and registering your Health Care Power of Attorney is a great start, but it is only the beginning of your preparations. As with most things, the best way to get what you want is to clearly communicate your desires. A health care agent who clearly understands your desires will be more likely to act according to your wishes.