When you’re putting your estate plan together, you should include a medical power of attorney (MPOA) designation. This is the person who will be authorized to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated before your death and unable to direct your own care.
It’s not hard to designate a medical power of attorney, but the conversations you need to have with them can be another story. Here are some talking points so that you can make certain that you and your MPOA are on the same page.
Do they understand and accept your wishes regarding end-of-life care?
Your religious, cultural and ethical beliefs may inform your decisions about your end-of-life care. They can affect whether or not you want a “Do Not Resuscitate” order and your feelings about everything from pain medication to feeding tubes.
You need to make certain that you’ve thoroughly discussed your belief system with your MPOA and that they either share your beliefs or are comfortable enforcing them. (If they are not, you want to designate someone else). Some issues to discuss include:
- If your heart stops beating, is CPR acceptable?
- If you cannot breathe on your own, do you want a ventilator?
- If your condition is terminal, do you want food and fluids withheld?
- How do you feel about antibiotics when your condition is terminal?
- Do you wish to be an organ donor? Are there any limitations?
- What other advance directives do you have in place that should guide them?
Finally, you need to make certain that your designated MPOA is also confident in their ability to navigate any complications you may expect with other loved ones. Families often disagree about what’s best for a loved one in a crisis, and disputes can be heated. Your MPOA needs to be stalwart and determined.
An effective estate plan is more than just a basic will and some beneficiary designations. Seeking legal guidance can help you determine exactly what you need to secure your future and make sure that your wishes are upheld – both before and after your death.