What to Do if You No Longer Want to Be Your Mother’s Healthcare Power of Attorney Agent
A power of attorney for healthcare, sometimes referred to as a healthcare proxy or advance directive, is a document that allows an individual to appoint someone else to make decisions on their behalf regarding medical care if they become incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes. It allows the appointed person to speak with doctors, make decisions about treatments, access medical records, and generally act on behalf of the individual in all matters related to their health care.
The document is important for individuals who wish to control what happens if they become ill or in an accident and cannot communicate for themselves. This can offer peace of mind that their wishes will be respected in these situations. In many cases, it allows individuals to provide detailed instructions about the types of treatments they would prefer or not prefer in certain scenarios. Additionally, this document can be used to ensure that family members are not put in a difficult position to try and guess what kind of medical treatment an individual would want if they become incapacitated.
Is There a Successor Agent?
Your mother may have designated a successor agent in her power of attorney for healthcare. If a successor agent has been designated by your mother and is willing to serve in that capacity, when you step aside as the agent, that person assumes that role automatically.
A successor agent for power of attorney for healthcare is an individual appointed to make decisions regarding medical and health care on behalf of another person in the event of their incapacity or inability to do so. This can include decisions such as naming a guardian, choosing a healthcare team, making healthcare choices, and decisions about life-sustaining treatments.
Successor agents are often family members, close friends, or legal professionals knowledgeable about the individual’s wishes and preferences. The person represented must sign legal documents giving the successor agent this authority and provide certain information to the successor agent before they assume responsibility. Though it is not required, it is recommended that the individual also update their advance directive, which outlines any specific medical treatment requests they have made in writing before becoming incapacitated.
Follow Applicable Laws
If you are no longer able to serve as the agent for your senior mother’s power of attorney for healthcare, it is important to take certain steps to ensure that her healthcare wishes and rights are still respected and lawfully followed. The first step is contacting an attorney specializing in elder law, healthcare law, or estate planning. An attorney can explain the legal process for revoking or replacing a power of attorney for healthcare and advise on other options available.
If you choose to revoke or replace a power of attorney for healthcare, you must follow all relevant laws in your state as outlined by the specific document signed with the current power of attorney for healthcare. It may be necessary to file a notarized affidavit revoking or terminating the powers granted by a power of attorney for healthcare.
Consult an Attorney
You should also consult an attorney about other options for ensuring that your mother’s wishes for her healthcare are honored if you are unable or unwilling to serve as her agent under a power of attorney for healthcare documents. This could include appointing another person to act on her behalf or executing additional documents, such as an advance directive that specifies her wishes regarding end-of-life care. An advance directive outlines a person’s specific wishes regarding medical treatments they would like at end-of-life, so those decisions don’t have to be made by someone else if they become incapacitated.
Discuss Your Desire to Step Aside as Agent With Your Aging Mother
Assuming your mother has the cognitive abilities to understand your desire to step aside as the agent designated by her power of attorney for healthcare, you will want to discuss your decision with her. While legally, you do not need to obtain her consent to step aside; it is far better if you both are on the same page.
Selecting a New Agent for Your Mother’s Healthcare Power of Attorney
If there is no successor agent, or if the successor agent does not want to serve, a new agent for your mother’s power of attorney can only be designated if she has the mental capacity to create such an instrument. When selecting someone to serve as the new agent of power of attorney for healthcare, it is important to take the time to consider several important matters. The individual you choose should not only be trustworthy and reliable. They must also understand your mother’s wishes regarding medical care and decision-making if she cannot decide independently.
You should first consider whether the person has a comprehensive knowledge of your mother’s values and beliefs regarding health care. This should include any religious or ethical principles you would like them to adhere to in making decisions about your health on her behalf. It is also essential for them to familiarize themselves with any advance directives or living wills that she may have drawn up so that they know what treatments and procedures are acceptable for them based on these documents.
When making this important decision, it is important to remember that it is wise to select someone who lives nearby and will be available when needed. Your mother may also want to select someone who has medical training or experience to ensure they can make informed decisions based on their knowledge of medical terminology and treatments. Additionally, it is best if this individual has previously served as an advocate for another person, as this gives them a better understanding of the role they are taking on.
In addition, discussing all aspects of the situation with potential candidates before appointing them is highly recommended. This includes an open and frank discussion about issues such as whether or not they would support life-sustaining measures, if necessary (such as CPR), whether or not they agree with specific end-of-life decisions (such as DNR orders), and other topics that may arise during treatment decisions for your mother in the future.
Whether you will continue serving as an agent under a Power of Attorney for Healthcare documents should not be taken lightly since it has serious implications for how your mother’s healthcare decisions are handled. If you choose not to remain an agent for your senior mother’s Power of Attorney for Healthcare documents, make sure that all proper steps are taken so that her wishes are legally recognized and respected.