Choosing an agent for your medical power of attorney is another important decision you need to make in order to create a good estate plan for yourself. Whoever you choose will have the legal authority to make medical decisions for you if you were to become incapacitated. And when I say ‘incapacitated’ I mean if you were to become so sick physically or mentally that you could not appropriately communicate with your doctor. Unfortunately many or even perhaps most of us do reach this state of being some time in our lives, so it’s very important for you to choose an agent wisely.
First of all there are some legal requirements for anyone to be your agent:
– The person must be at least 18 years old (unless they have been emancipated).
– The person cannot be your healthcare provider (your doctor).
– The person cannot be an employee of your healthcare provider, unless that employee is related to you.
– The person cannot be your residential care provider (think nursing home, hospice, etc.)
– The person cannot be an employee of your residential care provider, unless that employee is related to you.
Then there are some practical considerations:
– You need to choose someone who is willing to talk openly with you about how you would like things handled when and if the time comes. And you need to be able to trust that they would in fact make the choices for you that you would have wanted.
– Ideally you should choose someone who lives near you, and if not then they need to be willing and able to travel to be near you if needed.
– Whoever you choose needs to be able to appropriately handle conflicting opinions of family members, friends and healthcare providers.
– You need to choose someone who would be willing to fight for your medical rights and needs if a healthcare provider or institution isn’t doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Choosing the right agent for your medical power of attorney could potentially mean the difference between life and death – literally. Choose wisely.