When you sit down to create your estate plan, you may already understand the importance of having advance directives outlining your wishes and appointing someone to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated due to an illness or injury.

It may give you and your family peace of mind to know that you have a plan in place and that they will not need to go before a Florida court in order to obtain the right to advocate for you. Making the decision to include these documents in your estate plan is often the easy part though.

You must choose someone to fill these roles

You will more than likely have two powers of attorney as part of your advance directives — one for health care decisions and one for financial ones. You may choose the same individual to serve in both capacities, but it is not required. You could even choose to have more than one person to act for you when the time comes. The question you may now be asking yourself is how you choose whom to ask to fill these roles. The information below may help:

  • It may go without saying that you should choose someone you trust, but this point cannot be overemphasized. You need to feel comfortable with the person who may literally have your life in his or her hands at some point.
  • It may be beneficial to choose someone who has a rudimentary knowledge of medical processes, but it’s not necessarily required. More importantly, the individual should be willing to ask plenty of questions before making any decisions for you.
  • To that end, your chosen representative needs to be assertive and not easily pushed around. This person will be making decisions based on your wishes, not the wishes of your family members or medical personnel.
  • It would help if the person you choose can express him or herself clearly as well. The last thing you need when you are incapacitated is a misunderstanding because your advocate failed to make him or herself clear.
  • Even though you may choose anyone you wish, it would certainly be more advantageous for the person to live near you. You may not have time to wait for someone to travel in order to make life and death choices on your behalf.

As important as all of the above are, it may be even more important to make sure that the person or people you choose are willing to fill these roles for you. Don’t assume that he or she will take on such a monumental and important task without considering it first. The two of you will need to sit down and have a serious conversation before you make any decisions and put them into writing as part of your estate plan.