One essential element of estate planning is planning for ill health. One aspect of that is choosing a health care power of attorney. Yet deciding who you want to do it and completing the necessary documents is not enough.
The documentation is the easy part, and you should only do it once you have had a conversation with your chosen person. You need to ensure they understand what the role might involve and are happy to take on that responsibility. Guiding them as to your wishes will make their role more straightforward.
Communication is key when choosing a health care power of attorney
Telling your family you have a health care power of attorney can avoid problems later. When you make an estate plan, you assume you will not need to use it for a few decades. You might look at the health care power of attorney as someone who will decide which care home you enter in your 70s. Yet, an accident could leave you unable to speak for yourself and reliant on your health care power of attorney tomorrow.
People can get protective over the ones they love, and if you have not told your family who has power of attorney and explained why you chose that person, it could lead to problems. It can be even more likely if you are young enough that your parents still think they should make those decisions. You might be 30 years old, but if your mother still thinks of you as her little girl, she might be offended that you nominated your girlfriend, especially if she still hopes that one day you will “settle down and find yourself a nice husband.”
There is one final set of people you should tell — your medical providers. If they have your health care power of attorney documents on file, it is easier for them to find that person if they need to.