When you began the process of writing your will and making other estate plans, your family either praised your foresight or accused you of acting morbidly. However, you may have taken the time to consider the possible scenarios at the end of your life, and you want to protect your family from any frustrations or disputes that often arise from an unprepared estate.
One of the most generous decisions you can make in your estate plan is choosing a power of attorney agent to make your health care decisions if you should become too ill or injured to communicate. Since you have given so much thought to the rest of your estate plan, you certainly don’t want to rush making your choice for this most important duty. Understanding the tasks you will entrust to your power of attorney agent may help you choose wisely.
The qualities of a power of attorney agent
Your health care power of attorney will step in and speak for you at critical times. This does not necessarily mean the natural end of your life but also if you should be injured in an accident or suddenly become ill or incapacitated. That is why it is never too early to have your power of attorney designation in place. You should not make your choice in haste since this person may literally make life and death decisions for you. Your agent should have the following qualities:
- Someone who understands you and the care you desire in various situations
- Someone who will be there as promised and abide by your wishes even if they counter your agent’s own beliefs
- Someone who is not afraid to speak up on your behalf even if your family or friends dispute the agent’s decisions
- Someone who can clearly and concisely express to your medical team the kind of care you would prefer
- Someone who has a general understanding of medical procedures and is not too intimidated to ask for explanations or to question a doctor’s decisions
- Someone who understands the duties of a power of attorney agent and is able and willing to accept the role
Practically, your power of attorney agent should live close by. This saves precious time. If the medical staff needs decisions about how to proceed, you may not be able to wait while your power of attorney gets on a plane or drives 50 miles to the hospital.
If you are ready to appoint a power of attorney agent, you may have some questions. A compassionate Maryland attorney can guide you in making your selection and in preparing other documents, such as a living will, that can assist your named agent in speaking on your behalf.