You can have either a legal power of attorney or a medical power of attorney — or both — and the goal is just to choose an agent. When you are unable to make medical or legal decisions on your own, perhaps due to declining health, your agent can do it for you.
This is a very important part of making an estate plan. But who should you choose? There are a lot of factors to consider. Below are just three to start with.
Trust is the biggest issue
Nothing is more important than finding a person you trust. Remember, they are making choices on your behalf. You need to be 100% confident that they will make the choices that are in your best interests (the ones that you would have made if you could).
They need to be capable
It’s also wise to think about how capable they are of making these decisions. Do they live close enough to be involved? Do they have any experience that will help them? These can be complex decisions with major ramifications, so you need someone who is intelligent, compassionate and dedicated.
Are they willing?
Finally, it’s important to pick someone who is willing. Even a capable, intelligent person may decide that making medical choices for a loved one is emotionally overwhelming. Talk to your potential agent first to make sure they even want to be involved in your life in this way.
Setting up your estate plan
Powers of attorney are just one part of estate planning. Make sure you know what legal steps you need to take to get everything in order.