Many people think about their estate plan as only having to do with the assets they are leaving behind when they pass away. There is another facet to this plan that you need to think carefully about – your health care power of attorney.

The health care power of attorney is the person who is going to make medical decisions for you if you aren’t able to make them on your own. These powers go into effect if you’re legally incapacitated and unable to understand the ramifications of your decisions or relay them to the medical care team.

Some people think that they will have their closest family member make these decisions; however, this might not be your best option. You need someone who can think clearly about the decisions at hand. A person who is close to you might not be able to think about what you’d do without their own desires coming into the equation.

The health care power of attorney designee works closely with your medical team. They will make the decisions that aren’t covered in your living will. This document outlines some of your medical decisions, such as whether you want to be placed on life support or only be given palliative care.

These documents are only part of a comprehensive estate plan. Be sure to think about everything else, and remember to review your plan periodically to ensure it still reflects your wishes. This can help your family through a difficult time.