The agent you name in your health care power of attorney document will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are too sick to make them for yourself. Because this person is called to action only after you have been incapacitated, there are several important factors to consider when selecting an agent.
Typically, it is best to name one agent and at least one back-up person, just in case your first choice is unable to perform the required duties at the time they are needed. Sometimes people mistakenly think they can select a doctor or other healthcare professional to be an agent, but this is not the case. Instead, a trusted adult family member or friend should be chosen. However, it is important to keep in mind that the person closest to you may not be the person best suited to be your agent.
Consider choosing someone who:
- Lives close by
- Can be direct and assertive when advocating for you
- Will be available long into the future
- Would be able to act on your wishes, even when his or her feelings conflict
- You trust with your life
After deciding who you would like as your agent, it is important discuss the decision with that person. Explain what the responsibilities are and ask permission to name him or her as your agent. If you receive permission, be sure to also discuss your wishes regarding possible health care situations.
It may also be beneficial to talk with other close relatives and friends about your choice. By taking the time to explain your choice, you may be able to minimize potential problems like hurt feelings or arguments among family members.
Choosing a health care agent is a big decision that can impact the type of health care you receive if you become incapacitated. This is why it is important to take the time to find the person in your life who is best suited to the task.