The process of estate planning should include preparations for the eventualities that you may face when you reach your twilight years. One of these would be the possibility of becoming unable to make sound health care decisions on your own.
Many people suffer from physical and/or mental incapacitation once they reach an advanced age. If you were unable to communicate your health care decisions the court could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act in your behalf.
You can take this decision out of the hands of the state and make your own choice regarding a potential decision-maker by executing a document called a durable power of attorney for health care.
You may wonder what the “durable” part is all about. A standard power of attorney is going to become invalid upon the incapacitation of the grantor. A durable power of attorney does indeed remain in effect after the incapacitation of the grantor.
Some jurisdictions allow for springing durable powers of attorney. These powers spring into effect only upon the incapacitation of the grantor.
When you are choosing the agent that will represent you in the event of your incapacitation you should select someone who is decisive and capable of taking the reins. Family members may not all be on the same page, and your attorney-in-fact needs to be strong enough to stick by his or her decisions.
If you take the time to discuss your preferences with your agent in advance he or she will gain an understanding of how you would proceed if you were in a position to make decisions for yourself.
Another thing to consider is proximity. When you are selecting an agent you should ideally choose someone that lives relatively close to you so that he or she can react quickly if and when it becomes necessary.