he risk factor we will examine here concerns your family’s dynamics combined with your not having an Advance Health Care Directive or Power of Attorney for Health Care.

As a practical matter, doctors and hospitals will look to the closest relative for medical decisions should you not be able to make them yourself. However, what happens if your family is one where there is a strong difference of opinions? Could this difference of opinions result in fighting? Take a close look at your family:

  • Are you in a blended family with stepchildren?
  • How strong are the personalities in the family?
  • How combative?
  • Are there strong different religious beliefs in your family?
  • Are there any family members with a mental illness that could make a family consensus difficult?

If there are any difficulties with your family in making decisions about your medical care, at some point the hospital will ask that a Conservator be appointed so that the hospital has one person legally responsible for your medical care.

Assuring Your Wishes Will be Followed

You can best take control of this situation now while you have capacity. By preparing and signing an Advance Health Care Directive or Power of Attorney for Health Care, you reduce your risk of Conservatorship of the Person. If you state your wishes, pick your agent and successor agent, you control what will happen if you become incapacitated. It also makes it easier for your family by eliminating future conflicts during what will be a stressful time for your family.

Click Conservatorship Risk Factors to see all of the posts in this series.