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Choosing a reliable health care power of attorney

Having a will and a trust in place is a commendable step in the estate planning process. These documents show your concern for the future well-being of your loved ones. A carefully planned will or trust can ensure your family members receive their fair share of your estate while minimizing any negative implications of receiving an inheritance.

While you may be leaving a solid legacy for your loved ones, have you considered providing some security for yourself by choosing a health care power of attorney? With a power of attorney in place, you can improve the chances that doctors will know and implement your wishes for medical care, and your loved ones will not have to dispute the kind of treatment you may have wanted.

Look for these qualities

A health care power of attorney agent is a trusted individual who speaks on your behalf when a medical condition prevents you from expressing your wishes. If you suffer a serious injury or are unconscious but your doctor needs a decision about certain medical interventions, your chosen power of attorney has the authority to make those decisions. As you can imagine the person you choose for this role must have certain qualities, among them the following:

  • You trust him or her to follow your wishes even if he or she disagrees with your philosophies.
  • Your agent can make medical decisions for you regardless of any conflicting interests, such as obtaining a large inheritance upon your death.
  • Your agent has the courage to stand firm when other family members disagree with the agent's directives or try to pressure him or her to take a different course of action.
  • He or she has enough understanding of health care to make prudent decisions about diagnostic tests, medications and treatment options.
  • Your power of attorney agent can express your wishes clearly and is able to remain calm and listen intently under stressful conditions.
  • Your chosen representative lives close enough to you that he or she can reach the hospital easily when a quick decision is necessary.

Your spouse or oldest child may seem like the obvious choice, but if these people do not meet the basic qualities of a strong and trustworthy agent, you have every right to look elsewhere. Perhaps most importantly, your agent must be willing to serve as your medical proxy. This includes taking the time to discuss your wishes and understand the duties with which you are entrusting him or her. Your Texas attorney can help you draft the necessary documents and guide you in making a wise choice for your agent.

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