HEALTHCARE REPRESENTATIVE V. HEALTHCARE AGENT
The primary distinction between an Appointment of Healthcare Representative and an Appointment of Healthcare Agent is the date upon which you executed it. Prior to October 1, 2006 the term “Healthcare Agent” was used usually in conjunction with a Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions with the “Healthcare Agent” being responsible for “end of life” decisions and the Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions being responsible for all other medical decisions. On October 1, 2006, the law changed with the Healthcare Agent and the Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions now combined and called a Healthcare Representative. As a result of this change, “healthcare decisions” was removed as a permissive power under a Power of Attorney. The consensus was that medical decisions should be separated from financial decisions and that all medical decisions should be made by one designated person, hence the birth of the “Healthcare Representative”.
A healthcare representative, like a healthcare agent is a person one may appoint to make medical decisions for them should a time come when they cannot make medical decisions for themselves. This document can be very advantageous at the right time. If you have an “Appointment of Healthcare Agent” or “Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions” both are still honored today. If your “Appointment of Healthcare Agent” or “Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions” as opposed to “Appointment of Healthcare Representative” is dated after October 1, 2006, which has occurred, it is probably best to update your document(s). While it is hard to believe that the medical profession would not honor a witnessed and notarized statement of your wishes based on a technicality of the person’s title, the law does not require them to. While your documents executed prior to October 1, 2006 are still valid, you may wish to update them to the form currently in use as the medical profession may be used to seeing only the new form.
“When results matter, experience counts”