Myth #2 – Designating a Healthcare Agent

Myth 2: Estate Planning is Only For Old People

Reason to Plan: Estate Planning Should Begin When You Are Young

Once you reach the age of majority, even if you do not have any assets, you should execute a health care proxy or health care durable power of attorney.  In that document you may designate one person (and successors) to make your medical care decisions if you are unable to do so.  You can revoke the document during your lifetime.  No doubt Terry Schiavo at her young age she would experience serious medical issues.  Because she had not expressed her intent in writing Florida law named her husband as her agent.  Perhaps her parents would have had some comfort if they knew that she had selected him to make those decisions herself.

Designating a health care agent is also critical in a second marriage situation – it is normal for an adult child and a second spouse to feel that making the health care decision for the parent/spouse is their responsibility – it is not fair to put them in the position after a crisis to negotiate that out – the person who should make that decision is you.  If you are in a relationship with someone and not married that person has no legal standing to make your medical care decisions for you and in some states even to visit you in the hospital.  Executing a health care proxy or health care durable power of attorney can grant the person the legal authority to visit you and to make those decisions.  It is important that you write down the phone number of the health care agent in the document – after all if you are in an accident and it is a life threatening situation the health care professionals will not write-they will want to call and immediately discuss the situation with the named agent. 

It is also important to tell your health care agent that you have named him or her to serve.

Give a copy of the document to your primary care physician and keep a copy of it with your passport when traveling.

Patricia M. Annino, Esquire, is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Cracking the $$ Code: What Successful Men Know And You Don’t (Yet). Patricia is in demand nationally as a speaker for womens’ organizations on assorted topics.  Patricia works with organizations and women looking to educate and empower them to plan and work smarter with their finances and estates.  For more information visit:

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