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Who will make medical decisions for you if you can’t?

When you think about your estate plan, you probably mentally picture your will and any trusts you’ve made, but there is another facet of the plan that you need to consider. Many people become incapacitated before they pass away. You’ll need someone to make decisions about your medical care. This person should have the health care power of attorney so that they can effectively do this.

The person you name your health care power of attorney should be someone you trust and who can make decisions based on what you would do if you were able to make the decisions yourself. They may have to work closely with the medical care team that’s taking care of you.

If you have a living will established, your health care power of attorney should be familiar with the terms included in it. Your medical team is going use that document as the basis of decisions regarding your care. The power of attorney designee steps in when your wishes aren’t clear. They are also tasked with ensuring that doctors and others respect your wishes and follow the terms in that document.

Your health care power of attorney can make life or death decisions for you. This can make it difficult for a family member to hold this duty. Instead, you might consider a close friend who will be able to act without allowing their own emotions and wishes take over.

Making sure that you have everything in order in your estate plan doesn’t protect only you, it also protects your family members at a time when they might need to be able to focus on making major life transitions.