Figure Out What You Want In Your Health Care Power of Attorney

power of attorney image, estate planning, Figuring out what you want: The following questions are designed to help you know yourself and to form a basis for discussion with the person you choose to execute your health care power of attorney.

  1. The pleasures of health: How essential are these capabilities to your happiness? (i.e. are they, vital, important, mildly important, not important)
    • Walking
    • Enjoying the outdoors
    • Eating, tasting
    • Drinking
    • Reading
    • Attending religious services
    • Listening to music
    • Watching television
    • Avoiding pain and discomfort
    • Being with loved ones
    • Touching
    • Being self-sufficient
  2. Fear factors: What are your biggest concerns about the end of your life?

  4. Spirituality: How much of your comfort and support comes from religion? From personal prayer? From interaction with clergy?

  6. End of life: If you had the power to decide, what would the last day of your life be like? Where would you be? With whom? What would you be doing? What would your final words be?

  8. Assistance preferences worksheet: It is useful to discuss with your health care agent (and family members as well) the types of assistance you might want, should you need help, and to revisit this issue from time to time, because your preferences could very well change. Looking at each of the different scenarios spelled out below, think through what your preferences would be by asking yourself the following questions:

    1. Would I still want to live at home?
    2. Would I want caregivers hired to help me out in my home?
    3. Would I want to be taken to a rehab or assisted living center?
    4. Would I want family members to care for me?
    5. Would I want to live with one of my children?
    6. Would I want one of my children or a relative to live with me?
    7. Would I want my health care agent to make these decisions for me?
    8. Would my answers differ if my spouse were still living at home?

    • If you were unable to drive a car
    • If you were unable to climb stairs
    • If physical problems prevented you from being able to dress yourself
    • If you had to use a wheelchair because you were no longer able to walk
    • If you were unable to leave your home
    • If your vision were seriously impaired
    • If your hearing were seriously impaired
    • If you needed kidney dialysis
    • If you needed chemotherapy
    • If you were in physical discomfort most of the time
    • If you could no longer control you bladder
    • If you could no longer control your bowels
    • If you could not think clearly

    The more you take the time now not only to think through whom you wish to choose as a Health Care Proxy, but also how that person would address these future scenarios, the more likely your wishes will be honored in the future.

    Make sure (especially if you are in a second marriage) that you have coordinated the person chosen as your Health Care Agent with the person named as your Trustee and/or your Attorney in fact under a Durable Power of Attorney so that the decisions about your medical care and how to pay for it are coordinated.



    Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime. To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

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: