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Many people have taken the step of drafting wills and setting up trusts to safeguard their wishes and provide for their loved ones after they have died. However, many may have overlooked the importance of designating an individual to serve as their health care power of attorney. There may be residents in Maryland who can benefit from learning more about the purpose of this decision.

A health care power of attorney designates the person who will be expected to make the health care decisions that an individual is unable to make due to an incapacitating illness or injury. The person selected would have prior knowledge of what the wishes would have been of the one who was rendered unable to communicate. Additionally, it is helpful if the person selected lives in close proximity to the medical facility where these types of decisions are most often made or is possibly someone who may accompany the individual when traveling.

Another consideration in selecting the appropriate person is his or her overall temperament. Choosing someone who can make tough choices with emotional detachment may be preferable to one who may be easily overwhelmed in emotional situations. It may be desirable to have another person designated in case the first one chosen is unable or incapable of fulfilling the role. Also, realizing the consequences of not having one, such as a conflict within the family or a protracted court battle, may make the decision of selecting a medical power of attorney easier.

Once an individual has been selected and has agreed to fill the role of a health care power of attorney, the next step is to file the required documents and ensure that all pertinent people and institutions have a copy. Furthermore, if a change becomes necessary, then the individual must notify any and all involved of the changes. Maryland residents may rest easier knowing that their wishes for health care options will be enacted in the event that it becomes necessary to have a selected representative. There are resources available that can provide the information that may assist in drafting this important document.

Source: greenbaypressgazette.com, "Naming a health care power of attorney", , July 28, 2014

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