Part of a having a complete estate plan is putting together a disability plan, including a Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document allows you to appoint a healthcare agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are too sick or injured to make those decisions on your own. A lot of people automatically name their spouse or child without considering what a healthcare agent will actually be required to do. Here are some things to consider:
- Make sure your agent is an adult. Especially if you plan to name your child as healthcare agent, it’s important to make sure that he or she has reached the age of majority. If not, he or she will not legally be able to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Make sure your agent will be able to respond quickly. Choosing someone who lives far away could be problematic, especially if you’re injured in an accident and need someone at the hospital to make critical decisions on your behalf.
- Make sure your agent will follow your wishes. If you choose someone who disagrees strongly with the way you want things done, this will spell trouble. It’s important to talk through exactly what you expect from your agent before signing your Healthcare Power of Attorney.
- Make sure your agent can stand up to opposition. If you’re seriously ill or injured, your family members will likely be highly emotional and under a lot of stress. They may not agree with the type of treatment decisions your agent is making on your behalf. In this situation, it’s important that he or she can follow your instructions despite any opposition.
- Make sure your agent wants the job. Even if the person you want as your agent is one hundred percent qualified, it’s useless to name him or her if they’re unwilling or unable to do the job. Make sure you discuss exactly what you’ll need your agent to do, before you appoint him or her.