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5 facts you should know about a health care power of attorney (HCPOA) document

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  1. It is paperwork that allows you to name the person (agent) you trust to make healthcare choices for you if you can’t.  It is a way to ensure that your wishes are carried out, even if you can’t express them at the time decisions need to be made. 
  2. Having the paperwork on file does not give your agent the authority to make your decisions any time.  In order for the document to be activated, two physicians have to agree that you need someone else to speak on your behalf.  For example, if you are unconscious or have an injury or illness that leads to confusion. 
  3. In the state of Wisconsin, if you do not have a written document on file, a guardian will be appointed for you through the courts.  This will take time, may come with a fee, and could put someone in charge of your decisions that won’t carry out your wishes.  Because of this, it’s recommended that everyone 18 and older have HCPOA paperwork on file. 
  4. You do not need to pay a lawyer to help you fill out this paperwork.  You can get free assistance from medical social workers.  It can often take 10 minutes or less to fill out these important documents.  You will need to know the name, address and phone number for the individual you would like to name as your agent.  Your HCPOA document can be updated and re-filed at any time. 
  5. Knowing your paperwork is filled out and filed properly is important.  Medical social workers know the ins and outs of what is needed.  They will help you understand what you are filling out, and will also help you get copies of your HCPOA to the right places (medical center health information, agents, doctors, family members). 

It’s that simple, and that important.  For more information, call the Social Services Department at 608-847-1838.  You can also learn more by visiting the team’s booth at Mile Bluff Clinic in Mauston on Monday, November 20 from 9 to 11 am or 1 to 3 pm.   Staff members will be on-hand to answer questions and assist you with your documents.