There are several documents that may be included in your estate plan. Many people choose to include a medical power of attorney (POA) to assign a trusted person the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to make those decisions for themselves. The person you choose to have this authority is referred to as an agent.
Choosing an agent for medical POA
Under Maryland law, any person who is 18 or older and is ‘of sound mind’ can be chosen as an agent for your medical POA. Most people choose their spouse, adult child, or another trusted relative or friend who they believe will be able to handle this responsibility.
Remember that the agent should be someone that is willing to put their personal feelings aside and make decisions in accordance with your wishes. Once you have chosen your agent, you will have to discuss your wishes with them so that when the time comes they have a better understanding of what decision you would want them to make.
What does an agent with medical POA do?
The person you choose as your agent will essentially make all medical decisions relating to your care if you are incapacitated. The agent may take on the following responsibilities:
- Deciding on medical treatments and procedures.
- Choosing doctors to oversee your care.
- Deciding whether to administer life support.
- Deciding whether to insert a breathing or feeding tube or take other life sustaining measures.
- Deciding where you should live (e.g., assisted living facility) and who should be responsible for your care.
In addition to a medical POA, many people also choose to include a financial POA in their estate plans. The agent you assign for your financial POA will be able to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. You may choose the same person for both or choose two different people.
An attorney specializing in estate planning can help you complete the necessary POA paperwork to assign these responsibilities to your chosen agents.