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How to select your health care agent

There is no shortage of questions and challenges when creating a medical power of attorney. While you're doing this for the peace of mind it will provide, you also realize that it can stress you out for the time being.

In short, a medical power of attorney comes into play in the event of your incapacitation. If this happens, your health care agent will step in and make key medical decisions on your behalf.

Since this person has so many potential responsibilities, you can't just name anyone and hope they do their job should the come time.

Here are five factors to consider:

  • Your personal relationship: You must choose someone you can trust to do the right thing, with your wishes in mind, no matter what. This means choosing someone with whom you have a strong personal relationship.
  • Assertiveness: You don't want to choose a health care agent who is easily swayed. In this case, a family member, friend or medical professional may be able to change their mind, despite the fact that they're following orders outlined in your power of attorney.
  • Location: It's critical to select a health care agent who lives nearby, as they will need to make key decisions should you become incapacitated. Doing so from far away is impossible.
  • Age: It's something that's easily overlooked, but you need to choose a health care agent who is your age or younger and in good health.
  • Their willingness to do the job: Don't assume that just because you name someone as a health care agent that they're excited about taking on the task. Ask the person before you proceed, as they have the right to turn down the responsibility should the time come.

With these points in mind, you'll find it easier to select a health care agent. Even though it's never easy to think about a future medical concern, it's the smart thing to do. Adding a medical power of attorney to your estate plan will give you peace of mind.

Once you choose a health care agent, revisit your selection every year or so to ensure that it still makes sense. If a change is necessary, don't hesitate to make it without delay. Doing so will help keep you stress-free in regard to your estate plan.

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