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You may have a unique situation or have specific questions about what is right for you and your family. In these cases, it may be best to talk to an attorney.
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There are special considerations to make if you have a blended family or a child with special needs. In these cases, it may be best to talk to an attorney.
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Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
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  • …and any other concerns you have!
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Do you have a large estate or an interest in more advanced estate planning tools like trusts?

If your estate equals or exceeds a value of $1 million, or needs special estate planning tools like trusts, it may be best to talk with an attorney.
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a FindLaw Attorney

Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
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  • Being part of a blended family
  • Caring for children with special needs
  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
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Are you looking to have your estate planning basics covered?

Our Estate Planning Package includes a Last Will & Testament, Health Care Directive & Living Will, and Financial Power of Attorney to cover all of your basic estate planning needs.
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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have minor children?

If you have minor children, you will want to name a guardian for them.
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Do you have pets?

If you have a pet or pets, you will want to name someone to care for them.
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Do you want to leave gifts to people or a charity?

If you want to give items or money to people or charities, you will want to make what are known as “specific gifts.”
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Do you own a business?

If you own a business or a share of a business, you will want to plan for succession of ownership.
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Do you want to decide how your property is distributed when you pass away?

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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you want to specify someone who can make financial decisions for you if you are unavailable or incapacitated?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Understood! Last question…

Do you want to specify someone who can make financial decisions for you if you are unavailable or incapacitated?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Thank you for taking our quiz!
Your answers suggest you might benefit from:

Speaking with
a FindLaw Attorney

Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
What’s included:
  • Being part of a blended family
  • Caring for children with special needs
  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Estate Planning Package

For One Person

$135
What’s included:
  • Last will and testament
  • Health care directive & living will
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • A comprehensive plan — for less
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For One Person

$79
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Estate Planning Package

For Two People

$255
What’s included:
  • Two wills, health care directives & living wills, and financial powers of attorney
  • Two free HIPAA release forms
  • You and your loved one create your own estate plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Attorney-approved documents customized to your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For Two People

$149
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$156
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase

Selecting Your Health Care Agent

Deciding who you will name as your health care agent is one of the more difficult and important decisions you can make when planning for the future. If you are unable to speak for yourself, they will be your strongest advocate by making sure doctors follow medical care wishes laid out by you.

Table of Contents

A legal document used to put your health care wishes in writing can be called many things including but not limited to “health care directive,” “advance directive,” “living will,” “durable power of attorney for health care,” and “health care proxy form.” By using one of these, you can assign someone the ability to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Your agent is unable to override the health care preferences you set out but will have the authority to make most other treatment choices.

Depending on your state, the individual you choose to act as your health care agent may be called an attorney in fact, health care surrogate, health care proxy, or some other similar term.

Factors To Consider When Selecting Your Health Care Agent

Your primary concern when selecting a health care agent should be trust. This person may be put in difficult circumstances, so you need to be able to trust that this person will make health care decisions on your behalf that you would make for yourself. Here are some other factors to keep in mind when selecting your agent:

  • Assertiveness: This person should be comfortable with the idea of decision-making and disagreeing with your family, friends, and health care providers, as well as being capable of taking the matter to court if necessary.
  • Family Dynamics: Family members may have different ideas about end of life and quality of life issues. In addition, who you choose may cause your loved ones to have hurt feelings. Taking some time to explain your choice now may help reduce the chances of misunderstanding and family drama.
  • Proximity: While it is not necessary that your health care agent live nearby, they may need to spend lengths of time at your home or health care facility to make your health care decisions. This can be a good reason to skip some obvious candidates and explain to people why you chose one over another.
  • Longevity: You may want to consider the expected longevity of your agent. It makes sense to choose your spouse or a close friend over your parents or an adult child over a spouse who suffers from a medical condition.
  • Financial Agent: If you select one person as your financial agent and choose someone else as your health care agent, think about whether they can work together. You want your financial agent to be in agreement with your health care agent so medical bills are paid and you receive the kind of care you desire.

Who You Shouldn’t Name as Your Health Care Agent

It may make sense to have your doctor or a trusted hospital employee be your health care agent, especially if they have been making medical decisions with you for most of your life. However, most states have laws that prevent this, as it may put your doctor or the hospital employee in a conflict of interest and cause other problems. Some states also prevent paid caregivers from being named as a power of attorney on your advance directive form.

Note that this may apply even to your preferred agent (e.g., spouse) if they are a doctor or hospital employee. Review your state’s laws to confirm any restrictions on who you can name as your health care agent.

Estate planning solutions to fit your needs.

Choosing More Than One Health Care Agent

A common question that comes up for someone making end-of-life choices is whether they can choose two or more people to make their medical decisions.

Health Care Coagents

Generally, it’s best to only name one person who will be solely responsible for making health care decisions for you. It may seem like choosing coagents is the diplomatic solution to potential family issues but is more likely to cause problems than solve them. It often results in fighting between family members and can strain relationships between people you care deeply about. It also can delay or cast doubt on decisions if one agent is unavailable and neither doctors nor courts want to follow through with questionable decisions. In a worst-case scenario, one agent could take a matter to court, which would cause considerable delay and acrimony between the parties.

Backup Health Care Agents

Rather than name multiple agents, you can choose backup agents who assume responsibility if your first choice is unavailable. Backup agents are also known as successor or alternate agents and may even be necessary in the event your primary agent passes away or is unable to perform their required duties. This can also be a diplomatic way to deal with family issues by making your backups feel trusted and included.

Declining To Name a Health Care Agent

If you don’t want to name a health care agent, you can simply put your health care wishes in writing to act as a guide for your attending physician and other health care providers. By not choosing an agent, your treatment will largely be guided by your own decisions set forth in your health care directive & living will. You can also choose to name a health care agent and include instructions you wish your agent to follow when making decisions on your behalf.

More About Planning for End-Of-Life Health Care

health care directive often consists of two parts:

  • Health care power of attorney naming someone to act as your health care agent
  • Living will containing your medical preferences and health care wishes

Your health care agent will have access to your medical records and safeguard your treatment instructions. Other advance care planning issues often addressed include:

  • Life support treatments like ventilation or dialysis
  • Artificial nutrition and hydration, such as feeding tubes
  • Long-term living accommodations for medical treatment, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility
  • End-of-life care, such as whether you would prefer to die at home or in a hospital

These documents may sound complex, but many people choose to create their own when estate planning. You can try our state-specific health care directive and living will forms to create a health care plan that meets your needs.

Written by:

Rebecca Rosefelt, Esq.

Contributing Author

Reviewed by:

Jordan Walker, J.D.

Contributing Author