Who do you trust to make medical decisions for you?

Deciding what is best for a given situation can be difficult, even if you are making decisions for yourself. Many variables could come into play, depending on the exact scenario, and you may have multiple courses of action available. Though you undoubtedly hope that you will be able to consider those variables and decide which option works best for you, a predicament could arise in which you do not have that capability.

Becoming incapacitated due to an injury or illness could happen to anyone in Colorado and elsewhere. If this happens to you, you may not be able to express your wishes for medical care in the moment. As a result, you will likely need someone else to make those decisions for you, and you undoubtedly do not want just anyone having that ability.

Medical power of attorney

Fortunately, as you work to create a comprehensive estate plan, you can include a medical power of attorney document. This document gives you the chance to appoint a trusted person to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot do so yourself. This document does not necessarily need to include specific instructions on how your agent should act, but you could include instructions for certain situations. It is important to keep in mind, however, that your agent may not follow those instructions, depending on the circumstances.

When choosing your agent, you may want to look for certain characteristics. This role is not one to take on lightly, so your agent needs to feel comfortable under pressure and feel ready to make life and death decisions on your behalf. For instance, your agent may need to decide whether you will receive resuscitation in the event that you stop breathing or whether you should receive nutritional assistance through a feeding tube. Some familiarity with such medical situations is a plus, even if not always possible.

Leaving instructions

If you do want to leave instructions for a specific medical scenario, such as using a feeding tube or having resuscitative measures taken, you could use a living will to leave those details. A living will is a separate document that can include your wishes for treatment, acceptable life-sustaining measures and more. Medical staff must follow these instructions, and a medical power of attorney can act in conjunction with this document as it allows your agent to make decisions about subjects not specified in your living will.

Creating these documents is deeply personal, and starting planning early could give you the time to carefully think through your wishes and set them in legally binding documents for if or when the time comes to use them.