Characteristics of a Good Medical Power of Attorney

One important document included in our Estate Plans is your Medical Power of Attorney (POA).  

Also known as a Healthcare Proxy, this legal document designates someone to be your proxy if you cannot make decisions about your medical care on your own. This person can talk with doctors, view your medical records and make decisions about medical tests and treatment on your behalf. 

Because your POA handles your medical affairs, if you cannot communicate with your medical professionals, you should choose someone who either has some experience in that area or has the needed skills to handle those decisions. Wonder who you should consider? Here are some characteristics that you should think about: 


Someone Trustworthy: 

People have different viewpoints on dying and how to value life. When choosing the person who serves as your voice, you need to feel very confident with the person’s character and values. Can the person separate their values and feelings and focus on your wishes? Are you comfortable talking to them about death and what your wishes are?  

It is important that you trust them enough to know what you want and that they would be willing to follow your wishes.   

Someone Who Can Be Assertive: 

As we know, it is important to advocate for good healthcare. Some people retreat when they are emotional, and some become forceful when addressing an issue. It is crucial to think about the way someone handles a crisis. Do they become assertive or passive? Can they stand up to people? Can they stand up to other family members without wavering or second-guessing what they’re doing to follow your wishes? 


Someone Who Understand Medical Processes: 

Because this person will make medical decisions on your behalf, they must be comfortable talking to medical providers and understand the American medical process.  

They should be comfortable asking questions, especially about medical tests, procedures, prognosis, and the overall value of medical intervention. It is also good if this person can research your condition and learn as much as they can about it. 


Someone Who Lives Nearby: 

Having someone who can quickly get to any medical center you may be at is important. This person could be called and must get to a hospital or care center quickly if you are in an accident. Because of this, it is always best to have someone who can get to you in a timely manner. 




Someone Willing to Serve: 

Finally, this person needs to be willing and able to step up when needed. This job is not an award for your favorite person. It is a tough job, and not everyone is willing to take on the responsibility. When you think about writing someone as your POA, speak with them first, talk about what you want, and ask them if they are willing and able to carry out your wishes. You need to be comfortable if someone says they cannot serve in that role. Respect them for their honesty. 

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