Someday, a medical condition such as a traumatic brain injury or a neurodegenerative condition may rob you of your ability to make your own decisions regarding your health care. Creating a health care power of attorney now allows you to name someone to make decisions regarding your care if you become incapacitated. This person becomes your health care agent.
Making medical decisions on someone else’s behalf is a big responsibility, and it is important that you choose someone who is able to bear it. AARP offers some guidance on choosing a health care agent.
Do not make the people-pleasing choice
You need to choose a health care agent based on your needs, not the expectations of others. Look for someone who is trustworthy and dependable, as well as physically and mentally able to perform the duties required. It is more convenient for everyone if your agent lives nearby, but this is not a requirement. Once you have a candidate in mind, you should discuss the decision with him or her first. Do not name someone as an agent without his or her knowledge and consent.
Communicate your wishes to your agent
The job of a health care agent is to make health care decisions on your behalf according to your wishes. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your agent knows what treatments you do and do not want to receive if incapacitated.
Have an alternate in mind
The first person you ask may not be willing to serve as your health care surrogate. He or she may be willing but unable to serve when the time comes. To prepare for these scenarios, choose one or two alternates who can serve in your agent’s stead if necessary.
Incapacitation can happen at any time, usually due to unforeseen circumstances. Please contact our law firm for more information about creating a health care power of attorney.