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Most of us know it is important to have a Power of Attorney for Health Care, or as I prefer to call it, a Designation of Patient Advocate, to name a person as patient advocate to make our medical decisions in the event we are unable to make them for ourselves.  But it is not always easy to decide who is to be your patient advocate or how to speak with the person you have chosen about your wishes for your end of life care. And, it is not always the best thing to just name your spouse, child, or sibling without thinking it through. It is important to name someone who knows your wishes and that you can trust to carry out your wishes

“The Conversation Project” is an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement that has some very helpful information on how to choose a health care proxy (in Michigan called a patient advocate) and how to have a conversation with them about your wishes. If you have been asked to be a health care proxy for someone, there is some great guidance on how to be a good health care proxy.

The Conversation Project has put out a guide called “Who Will Speak For You? How to choose and be a health care proxy”. You can find the guide here or go to theconversationproject.org and click on Top Tools. For instance, some questions to ask yourself in choosing a proxy are:

Will the person make decisions that are in line with your wishes?

  1. Will the person make decisions that are in line with your wishes?
  2. Will the person be comfortable speaking up on your behalf?
  3. Will the person be good at making decisions in changing circumstances?

Another guide I like is “Your Conversation Starter Kit”. You can find it here or again go to theconversationproject.org and click on Top Tools. The kit takes you through a series of questions about what matters to you and your feelings about different types of care so that you can give this to your health care proxy as a guide in making decisions on your behalf. And since these conversations can be difficult to approach, there are suggestions for breaking the ice to begin the conversation.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like to have a Designation of Patient Advocate prepared for you or wish to discuss it further, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to assist you.

If you have any questions on estate planning, please call Karen L. Stewart, Attorney and Counselor at (248) 735-0900.

For more information, please see my website, www.customestateplans.com.