Choosing the Right Agent for your Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2019 | Estate Planning |

In California, your estate plan should include two critical documents: An Advanced Health Care Directive and a Power of Attorney. While you may not believe you will need these devices for many years to come, an unexpected illness or accident could occur at any time, which would keep you from directing your care or making financial choices. Should you become incapacitated, it’s imperative that you have the right people designated to step in on your behalf. Here is what you need to know about choosing the right agent for your advance health care directive and power of attorney.

Your Advance Health Care Directive

Your advanced health care directive allows you to provide instructions to your healthcare providers and name another person to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.  The person you designate will have the legal authority to make decisions about your medical care according to your expressed wishes.  If you have not given specific instructions, your agent must act in your best interest and in accordance with what your known preferences may be.  This person can access your medical records and make decisions regarding the treatment of your body after you die. You can limit your agent’s authority in your advance health care directive. When deciding who to choose to serve in this critical role, you should consider selecting someone you trust, and you feel can be responsible. It’s crucial to have an open discussion with the person beforehand to make sure they are an appropriate choice. While you may feel close to someone, that does not mean he or she feels comfortable being your decision-maker.

Your Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) allows you to designate a financial decision-maker to safeguard your interests. To select the right POA advocate, it is critical to understand the obligations the individual will have concerning your finances. Your POA agent will have several responsibilities, such as receiving funds on your behalf and paying your bills. They may also attend to your investment interests, prepare and file tax returns, and buy and sell property on your behalf.  This person’s authority can be limited in your power of attorney to specific tasks. However, if you become fully incapacitated and do not have a power of attorney in place for certain key financial matters, the probate court may have to appoint a conservator to protect all of your interests.

When selecting a POA advocate, you want to consider someone who you believe is capable of making sound financial decisions and protecting your interests. Often, how a person handles their own finances can be a good indication of their ability to manage these responsibilities. Additionally, it’s crucial to select someone with the right skills for the task. Just because someone cares for you does not mean they are ideal at handling money matters.

Selecting the right people to protect your health and finances are significant decisions. By talking with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can examine the different issues concerning your advance health care directive and POA and make informed decisions when selecting your agents. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have estate planning attorneys who have experience helping our clients plan for the future. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.


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