Monday, October 19, 2009

Picking a Power of Attorney for Health Care

Every seminar that I conduct has a component devoted to discussing powers of attorney for health care. During the discussion, I encourage people to really think about who they name as their health care agent, and the back-up. Never go with someone out of a sense of obligation, rather, select the person who is right for the role. Who, in your circle of family and friends, is right? Here are a few points to consider:
  • who is comfortable dealing with doctors and other medical staff;
  • who will be able to handle seeing you in a very ill state;
  • who will speak for you, based on wishes you communicated earlier, and not simply state what they want; and
  • who has the time to be at the hospital or long-term care facility.
This last point is one that challenged me during my father's recent illness and death. When we first drafted his forms, I was married, but childless. However, I now have a young child, and being at the hospital was a challenge -- my father was there nearly a month before passing away. Having a young child, too young to be spending more than an hour at a hospital, did not prevent me from being a back-up agent, but it did present challenges. Thankfully, I was available via phone and carved out as much time as I could to be physically present.

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