The process of estate planning should be viewed as a holistic one. Of course there is a financial component at the core of the endeavor. At the same time, you should also consider the eventualities of aging. With this in mind, let’s look at the advance health care directive called a durable power of attorney for health care.
Appointing a Decision Maker
During the latter portion of your life you may become incapacitated for one reason or another. It may not be the most pleasant thing to contemplate, but people often experience a period of decline before passing away.
You may not be in a position to make medical decisions on your own at some point in time. To account for this possibility, you should execute an advance health care directive called a durable power of attorney for health care or health care proxy.
With a durable power of attorney for health care, you as the grantor select an agent or attorney-in-fact. The person that you choose will be empowered to make legally binding health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
You may be familiar with the term power of attorney but question what the qualifier “durable” is all about. If you were to execute a standard power of attorney naming someone to act on your behalf, it would no longer remain in effect upon your incapacitation.
A durable power of attorney will in fact remain in effect should you become incapacitated.
Choosing the Right Agent
When you are executing a durable power of attorney you should give a lot of thought to the selection of your agent or proxy. For one thing, you should consider the age of the candidates.
The individual you choose will potentially be making decisions on your behalf after you have reached an advanced age. You probably don’t want to select someone who is your age or older.
Geography is another factor to consider. If you have two children with one of them living nearby and another living 3000 miles away, you should take this into consideration. The health care agent may have to make decisions on an ongoing basis, and this is better accomplished by someone who lives in your area.
The ability to communicate openly and honestly with your agent is also something that is important. The objective is to choose an agent who would act as you would act if you were capable of handling your own affairs.
As a result, you should feel comfortable sharing your thought processes with your agent so that he or she can act in a manner that is consistent with your thinking.
If you want to be prepared for the eventualities of aging, you should certainly execute a durable power of attorney for health care.