Making your end-of-life plans is much more than just putting together a will and selecting an executor. In the days, weeks or months leading up to your final hours, you may need someone to step in and make some major health care decisions on your behalf.
Assigning someone your health care power of attorney (HCPOA) is one way to ensure that your wishes are met during that time. Before you make your designation, you want to ask the person you want for the job the following questions:
1. Are you comfortable with my directives?
Death can be a complicated subject, and cultural and religious divides can sometimes cause different people to have vastly different approaches to the issue.
That being said, you want someone who is supportive of your choices (and willing to enforce them). If you want to make sure that your “Do Not Resuscitate” orders are honored, for example, make sure that your chosen HCPOA is comfortable with that choice and doesn’t feel a moral or religious imperative to keep you alive against your wishes.
2. Are you comfortable making medical decisions?
Your HCPOA doesn’t have to have a medical degree – or even any real medical knowledge – to the job.
However, they should be reasonably capable of understanding what medical people are saying to them and willing to ask questions when they’re unsure about something. You don’t want to assign someone your HCPOA if medical decisions leave them easily overwhelmed.
3. Are you comfortable handling a family dispute?
All those complicated feelings about death that people have can often erupt into family drama – and some of your family members may not agree with your choices.
With that in mind, your HCPOA has to be gentle enough to navigate the delicate situations that can arise but firm enough to stand their ground (and protect your interests), even in the face of family opposition.
When you’re trying to put your estate plans together, experienced guidance can help you make certain that your wishes will ultimately be respected.