As you start writing your wills, one of the questions you will need to answer is who you want to be given power of attorney. This person will be able to make decisions related to your care and treatment, as well as whether or not to continue life support.
It's a lot of responsibility and pressure to place on a person. How do you decide who gets this power?
Durable power of attorney
In California, you create a durable power of attorney, and that person becomes the attorney-in-fact. This person should be prepared to make any decision for your care, treatment, or any services or procedures that maintain, diagnose or treat your physical or mental condition. They can decide to begin, continue, increase, limit, discontinue or not start any type of health care.
Your attorney-in-fact needs to have the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of a decision and to make and communicate a decision.
What to look for in a power of attorney
When considering who should take on this responsibility, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I trust this person to make decisions on my behalf?
- In the event of a crisis, can this person set aside their emotions and make rational decisions about my health care, as outlined in my living will?
- Is this person financially responsible?
- Will this person be able to effectively communicate my wishes to my other loved ones?
- Will this person be able to work with my counsel to execute my wishes?
Once you have found a person about whom you can answer "yes" when asking these questions, you can talk to an estate planning attorney who will walk you through the steps to authorizing that individual with those powers.
Choosing a person to give the power of attorney to can feel stressful. But as long as this person is trusted to make decisions in a pinch, you can feel confident that your care will be administered the way you desire in the event you can't advocate for yourself.