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Who is it? What have you talked to them about?

In my family we are currently – and unfortunately – going through age-related health problems with three family members. One is a close family friend; but in my world, that’s still family.
In some cases the aging family members are still part of the decision-making processes and in some cases they have people making all decisions for them. I’ve been up close and personal lately with just how many decisions have to be made when medical issues start becoming complicated and just how difficult some of those decisions are.

It has me thinking – what makes a “good” power of attorney appointee and what responsibility do you have as the appointer.

Many times the position of POA defaults to the oldest child, or only daughter, or maybe to the only family member that’s left. In general though, appointing by “default” is not a great idea.

Your POA may find themselves in situations requiring them to literally make life or death decisions on your behalf. Can they do it? Will they be strong enough to potentially go against their own feelings of sadness and grief to follow through on directives you provided? Did you even bother providing them directives?

One of the benefits of putting plans in place is that you get to make your own decisions. Appointing someone as POA who is not able to follow those decisions under extreme circumstances – and believe me, they can become quite emotional and extreme – pretty much defeats the point of your planning in the first place.

Assigning a POA and then avoiding the difficult conversations about what you want to have happen puts a very heavy burden on your loved ones. A burden that hits them right when they’re already in a state of sadness and overwhelm.

If you have a POA appointed I applaud you for being proactive and not avoiding the situation all together. However, putting your legal ducks in a row without having the difficult conversations that surround your plans misses half the point of making the plans in the first place.

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