Skip to main content

Find the estate planning form that’s right for you.

Close

Okay, let’s get started!

Do you want to talk to a lawyer about your estate planning needs?

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.
Close

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!
Close

Great! Let’s keep going.

Do you have children from a previous relationship or a child with special needs?

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.
Close

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!
Close

Good to know! You’re doing great.

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.
Close

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!
Close

Okay! You’re good at this.

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.
Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

Got it! How about this next one?

Do you have minor children?

If you have minor children, you will want to name a guardian for them.
Close

Sounds good! Let’s continue.

Do you have pets?

If you have a pet or pets, you will want to name someone to care for them.
Close

Understood! You’re doing great.

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.”
Close

Okay! We’re making great progress.

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.
Close

Noted! Just a few more questions.

Do you want to decide how your property is distributed when you pass away?

Close

Sounds good! We’re almost done.

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.
Close

Understood! Last question…

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

Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

Understood! Last question…

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

Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

Sounds good! We’re almost done.

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.
Close

Understood! Last question…

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

Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

Understood! Last question…

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

Close

Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

Close

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!
Close

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
Close

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
Close

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
Close

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
Close

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
Close

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. Depending on the state, your health care agent may also be called a surrogate, attorney-in-fact or proxy.

Table of Contents

Your health care agent receives a durable power of attorney for health care from you, which gives your agent the power to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Depending on the state, the durable power of attorney may be referred to as a “designation of health care surrogate” or “appointment of health care proxy”, or something similar. Your agent will not be able to override any health care preferences you set out in a living will, but will have complete authority to make any other medical decisions.

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 healthcare decisions that you would make; not decisions they would make for themselves or decisions other family members may want. In addition to trust, here are some of the most basic factors to keep in mind when selecting your agent:

  • Assertiveness: To ensure that your medical decisions will be made and enforced, it is critical that whoever you chose will be assertive. This person should be comfortable with the idea of disagreeing with your family, friends and doctor, as well as being capable of taking the matter to court if need be.
  • Family Dynamics: It is unavoidable to avoid potential issues regarding your family when important medical decisions have to be made. Families that may otherwise be harmonious may have sharply different ideas about end of life and quality of life issues. In addition, who you choose may cause hurt feelings amongst other family members. This should never cause you to name one person over another, but you should spend time with the people most likely to take offense in order to explain your choice. Using some of these factors to explain it (especially proximity, longevity and who you name as your financial agent) can reduce the chance of misunderstanding and family drama.
  • Proximity: While it is not necessary to have your health care agent live nearby, realize that if they are needed, they may need to spend weeks if not months at your location making decisions. This can be a perfectly valid reason to skip some obvious candidates and a great reason to explain to people why you chose one over another.
  • Longevity: It may be worth considering the expected longevity of your agent. It may make more sense to choose your spouse than your parents, or even your eldest child (if they are fully grown) over your spouse who has suffered a stroke.
  • Financial Agent: Finally, realize that if you select one person as your financial agent and choose someone else as your health care agent, this could end up conflicting. If you completely trust both parties, then this may not be a real problem. However, if your financial agent strongly disagrees with decisions your health care agent is making, he or she may delay in paying bills which can greatly affect the kind of care you actually receive.

Don’t Name a Doctor or Hospital 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 he or she has been treating you 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.

Note that this may apply even to your preferred agent (e.g., spouse), if he or she is a doctor or hospital employee. So check your state’s laws if the person you wish to name as your health care agent is a doctor or works for a hospital. Check out our easy-to-use, state-specific forms to create a health care power of attorney that meets your needs.

Estate planning solutions to fit your needs.

Naming Several Health Care Agents

You should generally never name more than one health care agent. It may seem like the diplomatic solution to any family issues, but it is more likely to cause problems than solve them. It often results in family in-fighting, and can strain or break 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.

Naming Alternate Health Care Agents

Rather than name multiple agents, it makes more sense to name alternate agents. If your named agent passes away or is otherwise unable to perform his or her required duties, then the responsibility would fall to your alternate agent. This can also be a diplomatic way to deal with family issues, as people named as alternates would still feel trusted and included. You should, however, take the task of choosing an alternate just as seriously as naming the primary candidate. Never select someone you wouldn’t trust and really want making decisions for you simply to avoid family issues.

Can I Choose Not to Name a Health Care Agent?

Rather than choose a health care agent you are not comfortable with, you should consider simply not naming one. If you don’t name an agent, your treatment will largely be guided by your living will (something an agent could never override anyway). If you do not name an agent, make sure you really spend time on your living will to cover as many scenarios as possible, and contact your doctor and hospital to discuss your medical care wishes and how to best see them carried out.

Ask an Attorney Your Questions About Selecting a Health Care Agent

As you begin down the road of estate planning, one of the most crucial decisions you will make is whether or not to name a health care agent. While this type of decision is highly personal, it’s important to contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss the legal implications of selecting a health care agent.

Written by:

FindLaw Staff

Contributing Author

Reviewed by:

Laura Temme, Esq.

Senior Legal Writer