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What are the characteristics of an ideal medical proxy?

Part of a complete estate plan is having powers of attorney in place. A financial power of attorney can manage your investments, pay bills and deal with any financial issues that may arise if you should become unable to do so. A medical power of attorney may have an even more delicate duty.

If you should become ill or injured and incapable of speaking for yourself, you may be unable to express your wishes for the kinds of medical treatment you would want and those you would prefer doctors to withhold. Choosing a medical proxy to make these decisions on your behalf means finding a person whom you can literally trust with your life. This is not necessarily going to be your spouse or your oldest child.

 

Who is right for the job?

A medical power of attorney has a challenging task you may hope he or she never has to fulfill. For example, if doctors have a choice between two procedures that each have different outcomes and risks, your proxy will have the authority to make that decision. Also, no one wants to think about the possibility of deciding whether to continue with extraordinary measures or allowing you to pass away. These impossible choices require a special person, one who may have the following characteristics:

  • Knows you well enough to make decisions as you would
  • Is willing to make medical decisions according to your wishes even if they contradict his or her own opinions
  • Has your complete trust
  • Can communicate decisions firmly but deal compassionately with others, especially those who disagree with the course of action
  • Is knowledgeable enough to ask appropriate questions before making decisions about your medical care
  • Is willing to challenge medical treatments that contradict your wishes or may not be in your best interests
  • Can remain calm enough to make unemotional decisions when necessary
  • Lives close enough to be available in an emergency
  • Is agreeable to taking on the responsibility of being your power of attorney

Naturally, you will want to have some serious conversations with your power of attorney agent so he or she will understand your wishes. You can also assist your proxy by including a health care directive in your estate plan. This document provides your instructions for certain grave situations. Your Missouri attorney can assist you in creating a complete estate plan that can provide you with the peace of mind that your wishes will be clear and honored.

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