Estate planning isn’t just about who will get your assets when you die but the protections you need if you are alive and vulnerable. Many people will include plans for their future health care needs in a comprehensive estate plan.
Creating an advance health care directive enshrines your wishes in writing and makes it easier for people to make medical decisions aligned with your preferences. However, you may also need to name someone as your health care proxy to take action and advocate for you if you are not able to do so for yourself because of an injury or illness.
Consider stress levels for the person and ask their permission
Many people instinctively think of naming their spouse as their health care proxy. It makes sense, given that this person probably knows you better than anyone else and has a vested interest in your full recovery.
However, because of how difficult a spouse’s illness or injury can be for people, relying on your spouse to make those decisions might be too much stress during an already difficult time. Additionally, if you get hurt in a car crash or similar scenario, if your spouse is also injured, they may be unable to serve as your proxy.
Naming a close friend, a sibling or even an adult child as your health care proxy can be a better choice than a spouse depending on the circumstances. You may also want to consider naming an alternate individual in case the person you name is unavailable when you need them most. Make sure the person or people you name agree to this decision and understand your medical wishes.
Getting help with estate planning, including naming someone as your health care proxy, will set you up for greater peace of mind. Our website has valuable information on the various aspects of estate planning.