Good estate plans don’t just address what happens after you die. They also try to anticipate your needs before death – including any period when you may be incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.
A durable power of attorney (POA) for health care is one such important provision to have in place. This gives someone you trust the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf, in accordance with any advance directives you have and your wishes if (or when) the day comes that you cannot make those decisions on your own.
A lot of seniors want to grant that authority to more than one person, especially if they have two adult children. Usually, that’s because they either don’t want the burden to fall solely on one child or they’re worried that their children will think that they’re “playing favorites.”
It’s possible, but it’s not usually a good idea
You can designate co-POAs, but that can be very problematic and actually make it harder for you to make certain that your wishes are followed.
When you have co-POAs, it may be difficult for a hospital or doctor to reach both of them at once to obtain a decision on an urgent situation, and that can delay critical care. Plus, if your co-POAs disagree, that can delay your care even further while the legal issues are addressed.
It’s generally wise to name one person as your primary POA and the other as the successor POA in case the primary isn’t available. You can also add language to your appointing documents that permits either POA to act independently, without the input of the other. That can make it easier on them – and your medical providers – to make sure that your needs are addressed efficiently and effectively.