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Two minds may not be better than one for health care decisions

When it comes to making important decisions, the general wisdom is that two minds are better than one in reaching an effective decision. This is not always the case for St. Paul residents, however, particularly when it comes to important health care decisions.

Health care decisions can lie at the heart of certain estate planning considerations. Individuals can select a health care power of attorney, or health care proxy, which is a person who will make important health care decisions for the individual under certain circumstances. For instance, decisions about how a person wants to be treated can be made by the health care proxy, when the individual is unable to make those decisions for himself or herself.

Care must be taken when selecting a health care proxy, however. This not only includes choosing a person who can be trusted to make the important health care decisions that may need to be made, it means predicting what types of concerns could arise in the future.

One potential concern is when two or more individuals are selected as health care proxies. It is not recommended to choose more than one person as a health care proxy, because conflicts can arise between the two individuals as to which course should be taken on medical issues. It must be remembered that the health care decisions that may need to be made will often be sensitive matters, and therefore conflict can arise between different persons during these emotional times.

Accordingly, experts recommend naming one individual as health care proxy. A second individual can be named as an alternate, who will take over in the event the first person is not able to perform his or her duties.

Source: CBS Boston, "All about estate planning," Dee Lee, June 13, 2014

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