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What is a power of attorney?

When you are establishing your estate plan in Ohio you may think first of a will or trust. These documents definitely are important for any estate plan, but as WebMD explains, you also should consider having a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a written legal document that designates the person(s) you choose to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.

You may wish to have two separate powers of attorney, one for financial decisions and the other for health care decisions. You need not choose the same person to act as your agent in both situations. You also may wish to designate an alternate in each document to act as your agent should your person of choice be unavailable to do so.

Agent considerations

The purpose of a power of attorney is to make your wishes known and to appoint the person you trust to be your agent in carrying out those wishes should the need arise. Most people choose their spouse and/or an adult child, but it is important to consider the feelings of the person so designated, especially when it comes to a medical power of attorney and health care decisions.

For instance, the person you choose as your agent should be fully in accord with whatever health care decisions you want made. You should discuss your wishes with him or her in detail and be sensitive to any reluctance on his or her part to comply with them. You likely will want to discuss issues including the following:

  • Do you want them to authorize all pain relief options available to you or do you want them to choose only those whose side effects do not include the possibility of hastening your death?
  • Do you want specific life-sustaining procedures such as mechanical ventilation, CPR, tube feeding, etc.?
  • For the ones you want, how long do you want them to continue if your condition fails to improve?
  • Do you want life support maintained until your heart stops on its own or would you prefer that it be removed if you are determined to be irreversibly brain dead?

Choosing an agent and executing a power of attorney are major decisions. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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