When you were young, you probably did not give much thought to estate planning. After all, many New York residents wait until they reach middle age to begin the process. Failing to adequately address your end-of-life wishes, though, could leave you unprepared for medical emergencies.

Designating a medical power of attorney allows you to advocate for yourself even when incapable of making medical decisions. With an MPOA, sometimes called a durable power of attorney or healthcare proxy, you name a person who can make medical decisions for you. When selecting someone to act as your MPOA, look for the following five traits: 

1. Competence 

Medical conditions can be extremely difficult to understand. While you should not expect your MPOA to be a doctor, you should look for one who is competent. That is, try to find someone who understands complicated matters and has the ability to assimilate information quickly. 

2. Assertiveness 

Your MPOA will need to advocate for your interests and wishes. As you probably know, doing so can be tough. Therefore, avoid asking anyone who is timid or unassertive to be your MPOA. 

3. Availability 

If you need an urgent medical procedure, you do not want to wait for doctors to track down your MPOA. Instead, you want immediate action. Accordingly, only select an MPOA whom you know physicians can reach easily.

4. Communicativeness 

The person you choose to act as your MPOA will probably need to communicate with doctors, rehabilitators, family members, friends and others. Therefore, consider designating a person who has excellent communication skills. 

5. Decisiveness 

Finally, when choosing your MPOA, you want to look for an individual who can make decisions decisively. Often, there is more than one way to proceed. If you pick an MPOA who acts when necessary, doctors are more likely to respect your wishes.

If you are fortunate, you may never have to rely on an MPOA to make medical decisions on your behalf. Still, planning for the future is often the best way to avoid complications. With a bit of effort, you can likely find the perfect person to serve as your MPOA.