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What does your health care proxy need to know?

You took a smart step and gave a trusted relative or friend your health care power of attorney -- which is excellent.

But, did you sit down and discuss exactly what your wishes are?

All too often, people assume that their health care proxies know what they want -- and that can leave the person they've designated feeling lost and confused when the time comes to make those hard end-of-life decisions.

Here's how you can avoid running into problems when the time comes for your healthcare proxy to step in. Sit down with the person you've designated and have a frank discussion that answers the following questions:

1. Do you have any religious convictions that need to play a part in your proxy's decisions for you?

2. What do you consider the line between a life worth preserving and one that no longer has meaningful value to you?

3. What kind of pain control do you want? Does it matter if it shortens your life span or has the potential to do so?

4. If you are unconscious and not likely to regain consciousness, what type of ongoing medical care do you want?

5. If you are no longer able to direct your care, when do you want curative treatment to end and palliative care to begin?

6. Do you want your organs donated, if possible?

7. Do you have specific plans in mind for your earthly remains? Are they pre-paid? Who do you expect to make the arrangements?

8. Are there any other philosophical or moral beliefs that you think are important for your health care proxy to know?

Having this discussion now, long before it becomes necessary for your proxy to act, can provide you with the dignified end that you hope to achieve. For more help with end-of-life issues, speak to an elder law attorney about your concerns.

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