If you think it’s time to set up power of attorney for yourself or a loved one, here’s some background information that you may find useful.

If you’re a caregiver for a Medicare beneficiary, you may not realize that you can’t make health-care decisions on his or her behalf, such as enrolling in a Medicare plan or filing an appeal, unless you have the legal authority to do so. This Power of Attorney (POA) is required even if the person you’re caring for is a spouse or family member. To make health-care decisions for your loved one, you’ll need to be appointed to act as a legal representative for that person. This may include legal guardianship and durable power of attorney.

What is power of attorney?

According to the Department of Health & Human Services, a durable power of attorney for health care is a legal document that states who should make medical decisions on your behalf when you’re unable to make them for yourself.

If you’re interested in obtaining power of attorney for your loved one, keep in mind that there are several types. Some power of attorney forms limit legal authority to health-care decisions, while other types allow you to manage your loved one’s finances.

How to get power of attorney

You might want to meet with a licensed attorney in your area to discuss your options and what may work best for you and your loved one. An attorney can give you the appropriate power of attorney form and help you with any other legal documents (signed and notarized) required for your state. Please note that each state may have different requirements for legal guardianship and power of attorney.

Safeguard your power of attorney form

Once you have prepared and signed the power of attorney form, along with any other necessary legal documents, be sure to keep them in a safe place. You may need to provide copies if requested by Medicare, health insurance companies, or medical facilities.

If you’re helping a family member or friend with a Medicare claim or appeal, your loved one will need to fill out an Appointment of Representative form, which authorizes you to legally represent him or her in Medicare decisions. This form should be sent to the same organization handling your loved one’s Medicare claim or appeal. If you have questions about this form or aren’t sure where to submit it, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, seven days a week; for TTY assistance, call 1-877-486-2048. If your loved one is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan, he or she will need to contact the Medicare plan.

If you’re a legal representative for a friend or family member, I can help answer questions about your loved one’s Medicare coverage. You may be able to enroll your loved one in a Medicare health plan with more coverage or lower costs. I’d be happy to review these options with you. If you’d like to get some more information, schedule a phone appointment or have me email you information about plans. You can also shop available Medicare plan options in your area by using the Compare Plans buttons on this page.

This article is only for general information and is not legal advice.  Consult your legal advisor for guidance.