A medical power of attorney (MPOA) allows you to control your own medical decisions even if you become unable to communicate. It only becomes effective if your attending physician certifies in writing that you are incompetent. Without one, your next of kin can make some medical decisions, but will not have the authority to decide whether to withdraw life support treatment. This could require your family to incur the time and expense to request a court to appoint a guardian. There is an endless list of uncomfortable scenarios that can arise without an MPOA, such as a new spouse making treatment decisions without consulting your adult children or your estranged spouse being your next of kin. You can prevent these problems by selecting a person to act on your behalf. Learn more about medical powers of attorney.