Deciding who will serve as your medical power of attorney is an important element of estate planning. This is an individual who will hold the responsibility of making medical-related decisions on your behalf if and when you're no longer able to make these decisions yourself. While it's common to choose a family member for this role, you shouldn't automatically hand it to someone just because you're related. Instead, you'll feel more comfortable being a little more discerning and evaluating a few people in your life based on these criteria before you make your final decision.
Will Honor Your Wishes
Perhaps more than anything, you want to trust that the person who serves as your medical power of attorney will honor your wishes. This must be someone who is skilled at carefully following directions and won't deviate from the plan. You'll likely write out your medical-related wishes, but you should also talk them through at length with the person you appoint. This individual should have a deep affection for you, as this trait can be instrumental in ensuring that he or she will do exactly as you'd have wanted.
Doesn't Have An Agenda
You should try to appoint someone in the role of your medical power of attorney who you feel doesn't have an agenda. For example, if your wish is not to be placed on life support, you don't want to appoint someone who might be so stricken with grief at your illness that he or she elects to put you on life support. One could see such an act as furthering the person's agenda, and this isn't the type of person you want in this role. Try to assess those around you and think of times that they've followed their own agenda despite what others want — these are people who aren't adequately suited for this job.
Will Be Compassionate With Your Family
The person who becomes your medical power of attorney should also possess a high degree of compassion. This person will need to confer with your family members regularly, both while you're ill and afterward, and you don't want someone with a brisk or harsh nature about him or her. Given the difficult nature of the conversations that your medical power of attorney will need to have with family — and, in some cases, this person may indeed be a family member — it's important that he or she is tactful, empathetic, and compassionate.
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