If you get hurt or sick or pass away, someone may need to make some critical decisions on your behalf. They may need to talk to your doctors, make living arrangements or pay your bills, for instance.
At a time when families are already upset and grieving, making these decisions can be especially complicated. Thus, you should be confident that the people in these roles can handle the job.
Substitute decision-makers will have the authority to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of a deceased or incapacitated party, depending on their specific role.
Some of the more common issues they may need to address include:
These decisions can dramatically affect you, your loved ones and your quality of life during an already challenging time.
With so much on the line, consider the following components when you are appointing decision-makers.
If you cannot answer these questions in a way that makes you feel confident and protected, you may need to rethink the person or persons you planned to appoint as a substitute decision-maker.
Communication is a key component of the relationship you have with your substitute decision-maker. Too often, disputes arise because parties do not see eye-to-eye on an issue, and they cannot ask you for clarification or guidance.
Thus, communicate your wishes sooner, rather than later. Talk to the person you appoint to make decisions for you. Explain what you want and why you have made certain decisions, and let them ask questions or refuse the role if they are uncomfortable.
Documenting your wishes in a comprehensive estate plan can also be critical in preventing confusion.
Making decisions on someone else’s behalf is a significant responsibility. Appointing the right people to these roles can protect you and your legacy.