Choosing a Health Care Agent for your Advance Health Care Directive

The person you designate to make decisions for you if and when you become incapacitated is called a Health Care Agent.  The Health Care Agent undertakes this responsibility after a medical professional has determined that you lack capacity to make your own medical decisions.

There are many factors that you will want to consider.  Here are some items to consider when you are choosing a health care agent.

1.      Would this individual be able to handle conflicting opinions between family members, friends, and medical personnel?

End-of-Life care and treatment is truly a personal decision.  Therefore, it is important to identify and name an individual who will be handle the pressure of various opinions and be able to make the medical decision that you would have made, if you were able to communicate.

2.      Would this individual be able to act on your wishes and separate his or her own feelings from yours?

When faced with a crisis wherein a loved one is in a dire medical situation, it is only natural to want to do everything possible for your loved one.  However, it is crucial that your agent is able to separate his or her own feelings and take the action you would want.

3.      Does this individual know you well, and understands what is important to you?

The agent should be willing to discuss the issues with you.  When you broach this subject, is he or she willing to listen and discuss the issues with you?

4.      Will this individual talk to you now about sensitive issues, and is willing to listen to your wishes?

A good potential agent is one who is willing to start the conversation now.  He or she should be willing to discuss the issues with you, and uncover what is important to you.

5.      Does this individual live close by or is he or she able to travel to be at your side?

 Ideally, the potential agent lives close by.  However, it is not always possible to choose an agent who lives close by.  Thus, it is important to ascertain if your agent is able to travel to you, if need be.

Please Note:  This information is not intended to create, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.  It should not be relied upon as legal advice.    This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of the factors that you may wish to consider when choosing a healthcare agent.

Four-Step Action Plan for Choosing an Agent for your Advance Health Care Directive

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