When drafting an estate plan, you need to name a party who will make medical decisions on your behalf (a health care agent) if you become incapacitated. An advance directive for health care (sometimes called a living will) allows you to list your medical wishes, such as the treatments you would or would not want if you’re at the end of your life.
A health care agent helps ensure that such wishes are fulfilled and makes other critical decisions on your behalf. That’s why you need to be careful about your selection process. Below are four factors to consider when choosing a health care agent.
Closeness to you
Your health care agent should know you well. They need to understand your values and wishes, any existing medical conditions, allergies and so on. Essentially, they should be adequately informed to make decisions in your best interest. Picking a loved one you’ve not been in contact with for years may not be wise.
Willingness to discuss sensitive matters
Some of the topics you will discuss with your health care agent will be life-or-death situations, such as when to withhold or withdraw life support. You want to choose someone who is willing to discuss such topics so that they can understand what you want and the best ways to act on your behalf.
Some of the decisions your health care agent will make may lead to conflicts because other family members or friends may disagree with them. Thus, it’s vital to name a person who can make informed decisions without being distracted.
Age is a crucial factor when choosing a health care agent. Consider choosing someone younger and thus likely to outlive you. This is also a good reason to name at least one alternate who will serve if your first choice is unable to assume their duties.
These are among the vital factors to consider when choosing a health care agent. Legal guidance can help you make these and other critical decisions.