The most important decision you make when making a durable power of attorney for health care is naming your health care agent. This person is called by other names like surrogate, health care proxy, or attorney-in-fact depending on the state you are residing.
When making a durable power of attorney for health care, common choices for health care agent are the spouse, relative or close friend. Trust should be absolute when making this choice. This person will be directing your medical care if you are unable to make decisions yourself. You should be confident enough to discuss your choices and wishes for medical care. Even though he or she might not agree with all your decisions, they should respect them and ensure that you will get exactly the treatment you want and none of the treatment that you do not want.
Power of Attorney, What Does it Do?
A durable power of attorney for health care can authorize another person to make medical decisions for you from the moment you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. The durable power of attorney for health care document is also known in some states as Appointment of Health Care Proxy, or Designation of Health Care Surrogate. Though known by different names, all of them work exactly the same as a durable power of attorney.
Key Factors to Consider when Choosing a Health Agent
Select a health care agent (and a backup) who knows you well, is calm in a crisis, understands how you would make decision if you were able, is not afraid to ask questions, will advocate to doctors, and can reassure and communicate with your family. Factors to consider include:
- Assertiveness. Is the person you choose to act as a health agent assertive enough to fight for your wishes in the face of a stubborn medical establishment? Is he or she willing to go against your family’s intervention with your treatment and assert what was instructed in your wishes? If you foresaw a conflict or other disagreement in enforcing your wishes, get an agent you trust enough to be assertive and strong-willed to follow his obligations as a health agent.
- Close Proximity. Although it is not required that the person you name as a health agent be living within your state, living closer together can be very helpful. If you happen to be critically ill for a long time, he or she will be required to spend time with you during the duration of your illness so they can supervise and make sure all is being followed as per your wishes.
- Financial Agent. Creating a durable power of attorney for finances, in case you are incapacitated, would also be a wise decision. It would be wise to make your health agent your financial agent as well in order to avoid conflict between two different agents trying to manage your affairs.
Source: 1-2-Law: https://www.12law.com