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The Benefits of a Medical Power of Attorney

People in the prime of their lives often never give documents like these a second thought. Even when young people amass a small amount of wealth and see the need for a will, but they may not think of a MPOA.

Clearly, the headline news regarding the unfortunate situation involving Bobbi Kristina Brown, the only daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, should certainly make us all pause and consider how very important it is to have a Medical Power of Attorney in place. At any age.

Who Needs a MPOA?

The truth is, everyone needs a Medical Power of Attorney. No matter your age or your station in life, this is one document that you should have in place. If you are a parent, you should have one and you should convince your adult children of the importance of setting up an MPOA.

One of the common misconceptions of an MPOA is that it only serves a purpose if you are on life support or near death. Not the whole truth or the only reason to have an MPOA in place. While an MPOA does designate decision-making power for those who are in comas or have other conditions that affect their abilities to make decisions, that it is not all it covers. Having an MPOA also lets others know your wishes about other care conditions. YOU get to let them know about YOUR wishes for feeding tubes, special treatments or other equipment that may prolong life. It even acts in temporary situations where you will be unconscious, such as during surgery. Once you are alert and able to make your own decisions, it is no longer in effect.

Accidents can happen even to the young and healthy. If you are not prepared with a medical power of attorney and are unable to make your own decisions, someone else will have to do it for you. It may not be the person who knows you best or someone you would have chosen.

Make Your Wishes Known

The main benefit of having an MPOA is that others will know your wishes. For many young people, they don't talk about serious issues like death or life support. Others, even close family, may not be aware of what they would want in certain situations.

If you are the parent of an adult child, and want to have this conversation with them about their own need for an MPOA, congratulations. You are imparting wisdom. In your conversation, be sure to stress to your adult children the importance of choosing someone who they know well, can trust to make right choices - accordingly to what they have outlined in their MPOA. Emphasize that the person must be someone they feel comfortable discussing the hard questions about health and life-sustaining choices.  Even if you feel that you know your child, you might be surprised by how they would handle medical situations.

The MPOA is NOT Just About Life-Ending Choices. It is Also About Receiving the Best Care.

Another misconception is that an MPOA is only used to stop treatment or to allow you to die. This document is also about providing the right care in many situations. It gives the person chosen the right to change doctors or even switch treatments to ensure that you receive the best medical care available. It may increase the chance of recovery or allow you to receive experimental drugs or treatments to improve the quality of life.

Select Your MPOA Decision Maker.
Personally. Directly. Privately.

When you select the person to authorize on your MPOA, sit down with them privately. Ideally, in your home, instead of a public setting like a restaurant. You will be having a highly confidential conversation.

Explain to them why you selected them. Do not be surprised if they are initially hesitant, resistant, or ask lots of questions. Because remember  -what you are asking them to do could have the potential to oversee big responsibilities. And they are probably also considering the impact it will have with other members of your family.

Respect the fact that they may need time. Tell them to think it over, and give them a week to get back to you with their consent to take on the responsibility. Meanwhile, have other people in mind to assume the responsibility, in case your first choice is unable or unwilling. Resist the temptation to hold a family meeting and make a big announcement. Otherwise, you could open a Pandora's Box prematurely, and introduce early family drama regarding your choice.

Seek Faith-Based Counsel & Guidance

If you are a faith-based person, pray on your decision. Pray for spirit-based guidance on your choice. Search Holy Scriptures. Speak to your Pastor, church elders, or faith-based counselors about any questions you have, and how they align with your religious beliefs. They will provide insights and confirmation. Ask them to guide you to scriptures that you can use to feel that your choices align. Then, pray again. And know that God will lead you, guide you, and give you peace in your decisions.

Avoid Family Drama

Families either come together in a tragedy or battle lines are drawn. It's an unfortunate reality of human nature. And that is yet another reason why having an MPOA is important. It can provide the designee with the confidence they will need to make decisions, based on your will. And the designee can point back to the document as what YOU want to happen.

When a person's wishes are not known, people begin to assert their own opinions. Those often differ between family members and then legal battles ensue. If you have an MPOA, it trumps what others want.

The person chosen will be able to make the right decisions and eliminate the bickering and fighting. No matter your age, marital status or financial or physical condition, a medical power of attorney gives you the power to determine your care when you are unable to speak on your own behalf.

Safe-Keeping of Your MPOA Document.

Once you make your choices, provide your attorney, primary and specialty care physicians with a copy of your MPOA for safe keeping.  And obviously, give a copy to the person(s) you have elected to make decisions regarding your care.

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Medical Power of Attorney.

Why You Need One.

Regardless of Your Age.

Regardless of Your Income.


Do you think of things like a will or medical power of attorney (MPOA) as something for older people to consider? Have you ever thought about the possibility of who will make medical decisions for you

if you are unable to do it?