One of the most crucial decisions you may make as you reach your later years of life is choosing a power of attorney. Put simply, powers of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants someone permission to handle your affairs in the event that you are unable to do so. The powers of attorney can be conditional, such as after a specific event or incapacitation, or durable, meaning it goes into effect immediately.

Given they will likely be responsible for your finances, the medical care you receive or both, choosing a POA can be a difficult choice to make. You’ll want to choose someone who understands your wishes and who can handle the duties required for the role.

The last thing you want to worry about when your health is declining is a POA who won’t respect your requests when you can’t fulfill them. When selecting a POA, it’s recommended you find someone who meets the following criteria:

Someone you can trust

One of the most valuable traits your POA can have is trustworthiness. The role of POA is a huge undertaking, so you want someone who can follow through on your wishes without question. While many people will choose their spouse, relative or close friend for the job, you are allowed to name whoever you think will best represent you in your time of need. You’ll also want to choose someone you feel comfortable sharing the details of your health care or finances with.

Someone who lives close by

When choosing a POA, it’s a good idea to pick someone who lives nearby – especially if they are managing your medical care. In an emergency, a POA may need to get to your preferred hospital or care center quickly to speak on your behalf. For this reason, choosing a family member or relative who lives far away or out of state may not be the best option.

Someone who understands your condition

Since a POA can make medical decisions for you on your behalf, you’ll want to pick someone who understands your medical condition and who can ask the right questions regarding your care. The decisions they make will directly affect your life and the treatments you do or don’t receive. The ideal POA will be willing to familiarize themselves with your health and research your condition to provide the best care for you.

A POA can help you to establish a concrete plan for any of your future needs. With the right person in the role, you can give yourself and loved ones peace of mind knowing you are in good hands.