While there are ways to increase your chances of having a healthy and long life, a serious injury or illness may stop you in your tracks. Even if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, you do not have to lose control over your health care.
A medical power of attorney may be one of the more important parts of your overall estate plan. With this document, you can name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, keeping your loved ones from the headaches of pursuing legal guardianship.
When selecting an individual to serve as your health care representative, you must explain the responsibilities of the role. Specifically, you must determine whether the person you want to designate can handle the burden of making difficult medical decisions. Your representative may also have to stand up to your doctors, relatives, friends and others who may disagree with your wishes.
Your health care representative need not have a medical degree. Nevertheless, your representative should understand your health care priorities. To be effective, he or she also should have some familiarity with the medical treatments you want and do not want.
While New Jersey law places few restrictions on who may serve as a health care representative, you want to find a person who is available. Designating a representative who has the time to process information and make prompt decisions probably makes sense.
The best time to plan for medical emergencies is when you are feeling healthy and mentally aware. Ultimately, interviewing all prospective health care representatives and choosing the right one may put your mind at ease.