I am often asked by family members of an elderly or ill patient when a healthcare power of attorney Arizona becomes effective, when is it time to exercise the power and what types of decisions should I be making on behalf of my relative? These essential questions are crucial to the discussion of important decisions to be made at the end of life for our family members.

First, it is important to note that a healthcare power of attorney Arizona provides that the agent acts on behalf of the principal when he or she is unable to make their own healthcare decisions. Under Arizona statutes, “incapable” means that in the opinion of a licensed physician or one who is a specialist in psychiatry or a psychologist, a person is unable to give informed consent.

By statute, “informed consent” means a “voluntary decision following presentation of all facts necessary to form the basis of an intelligent consent by the patient or guardian with no minimizing of known dangers of any procedures.”

Ultimately, the test as to when the patient is unable to act depends on a physician’s conclusion that the patient is unable to reach an intelligent conclusion when knowing all of a procedure’s risks. When the physician reaches this conclusion, the agent assumes responsibility to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient.

The decisions agents make depend largely on the patient’s wishes. Most people with a healthcare power of attorney also have created a living will indicating that they would not like to have their life prolonged if they have a terminal illness or are in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma.

We counsel our clients to discuss this scenario with family members long before these decisions need to be made.

It is important to share with family members to what extent extraordinary measures should be taken when the time comes. You should talk about the quality of your life if extraordinary measures are taken to keep you alive, whether you wish to have your life prolonged if you are greatly physically or mentally incapacitated or otherwise would not enjoy the quality of life that you are used to.

By having this discussion in advance, you will make health care decisions much easier