» Power of Attorney

Can Your Agent Under a Power of Attorney Get Your Health Care Information?

Many adults, particularly older adults, have a power of attorney in place so that a loved one can make decisions and act on their behalf in the event they lose the capacity to do so themselves. You might have a power of attorney for financial matters, so that if you became legally incapacitated, the agent you appointed could seamlessly step into shoes and conduct transactions on your behalf, making sure bills are paid, and so forth. You might also have a health care power of attorney, enabling a trusted person to make your health care decisions on your behalf. But can your agent get your health care information?

The intuitive answer would seem to be "yes." Otherwise, how could the person entrusted with making health care decisions on your behalf do so in an informed way? Without access to your health information, he or she might not even know what decisions needed to be made. Until a few years ago, there was a Catch-22 under Ohio law: a health care power of attorney didn't spring into effect until a principal's attending physician declared the principal legally incapacitated. But the agent, also called the attorney in fact, could not get this information until the power… Read More

How—and When—Should You Revoke a Power of Attorney?

Having a power of attorney in place is an essential part of your estate plan. A power of attorney can seamlessly transfer to a person you trust the authority to make decisions or transact business on your behalf as needed. You can have a power of attorney for financial matters or for health care. It can be effective immediately if you choose, or not take effect until you are incapacitated. Essentially, this document gives you control over who will manage your interests if you can't, and spare your family the cumbersome process of seeking guardianship over you if you are legally incapable of making your own decisions. But when should you revoke a power of attorney?

While it's good to have a power of attorney, the person you've chosen to hold that power, known as your agent, may need to change. Perhaps the person you intended to act on your behalf has moved away or is too ill or busy to accept this responsibility. Or, for whatever reason, you may decide that you don't trust the person as you once thought you did, or don't feel like they're the best fit for your needs.

It's important to be honest with yourself about this issue. When you choose an agent, you are entr… Read More