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Why you need a medical power of attorney

A medical power of attorney takes your healthcare decisions out of your own hands and gives them to someone else. You pick that person and name them in the document. Many people choose their adult children, for instance, or someone else they can trust to make decisions with their best interests in mind.

You need this because there is always the chance that you will not be able to make these decisions on your own in the future. You can do so right now, but it's unwise to assume that will last or to decide you'll just take care of it at a later date. You never know what the future holds.

For instance, if you have Alzheimer's disease or late-stage dementia, you may not even realize that you're incapable of making decisions. You may not understand how far your mental health has deteriorated. This puts you at serious risk.

Your incapacitation could be even more sudden and drastic if you have a heart attack, suffer a stroke or get in a car accident -- just to name a few potential events. In mere seconds, you could go from relatively good health to complete dependence on medical professionals.

There's no time to worry about updating your estate plan and thinking about who would be best at making your decisions for you. There are too many factors: Emotional and mental health, physical proximity, and much more. You have to think it all over carefully, and you need to do it in advance to get the best outcome for you and your family.

That's why a medical power of attorney is so important. Make sure you know what steps to take.

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