You know the value of giving someone your medical power of attorney (POA), just in case something happens. If you can’t speak for yourself, you want someone you trust to make any important calls regarding your health.
However, you don’t want to make the mistake of simply naming your spouse or your oldest adult child your POA – because, despite their closeness to you, they may not be the right person for the job.
What makes a good medical power of attorney? Here are the questions you need to ask yourself as you consider your choices for this position:
1. Are they comfortable discussing unpleasant topics?
You need to have hard conversations with your POA about your end-of-life wishes, and that means discussing what happens if you’re in a coma, on a ventilator and more. If your child, for example, can’t bear to talk about these things, they won’t be able to handle the reality of them, either.
2. Are they capable of making informed medical decisions?
Everybody has different strengths. You want the person you choose as your medical POA to be reasonably well-versed about medical processes and able to follow along with what the doctors are saying. You also want someone who is assertive enough that they’ll ask questions and make sure that your care team is taking appropriate action.
3. Do you and they share similar beliefs and values?
End-of-life decisions are often fueled by deeply personal beliefs or religious values, and you don’t want to put your POA in a position where they have to act against their own. For example, if you’re a big believer in “do not resuscitate” orders, you don’t want someone as your POA who thinks that all lifesaving measures should be taken at all times.
4. Can they withstand the pressure from others?
End-of-life family dynamics can get very complicated. Unless your family is very in sync, they may not all agree about what should happen. You want your POA to be willing to stick to your requests, even if not everybody is happy about it.
No two people have the exact same concerns for their estate plans, but experienced legal guidance can help you refine your goals and get things in place.