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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I have been an estate planning attorney now for more than 20 years. I’ve helped numerous clients in every aspect of estate planning that can be imagined. I’ve learned a few things about the importance of estate planning documents and how they can provide protection for you while you are alive. As a result, when I meet with clients, I often have a conversation with them where I help them understand the fact that while their last will and testament is important, it is not the most important document they should have in their estate planning. During this discussion I help my clients understand why the power of attorney for health care could be one of the most important documents they have as part of their estate plan.

To be sure, the power of attorney for health care is just one of the several documents that each person should have as part of their basic estate plan. The other documents would include the last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, and a living will. It’s also possible that an individual may need a trust to take care of minor age children or individuals who have disabilities or special needs. Additionally, some individuals also like to use a trust as a way of avoiding probate for themselves.

So what exactly is a power of attorney for health care? This document is specifically designed to give you the ability to a name or appoint someone who will help you make medical decisions if you lose the ability to do so for yourself. An example may help illustrate this.

Let’s suppose that you have an injury or an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease that has limited your ability to understand your medical condition or to make medical decisions. In this instance, if you have a power of attorney for health care, you have named someone who can make decisions for you about medically related things such as what doctors you see, what medicines you take, and what medical procedures you may need to receive. By having this power of attorney, you are eliminating the need for your family and loved ones to do a guardianship proceeding for you in court. This will save your family time and money and could also help avoid disagreements about who should be appointed.

Speaking of appointments, you have the ability to decide for yourself who you want to give this power of attorney appointment to. We use a succession approach which also gives you some backups in case the first person you choose is unable or unwilling to help you. In other words, you make a first choice by naming someone. We then suggest that you named additional individuals who can step in if the first person you chose either cannot or will not do it.

Through your power of attorney for health care, you are assured that you will have individuals there to help you make medically related decisions if you need the help. We have helped numerous clients complete their own personal estate planning. We specifically take the time to go through the importance of a power of attorney for health care with each of our clients. If you have questions or concerns about your own estate planning, including a living will, we can help you too.


If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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