January 21, 2011
If you are over 18, choosing a health care agent is one of the most important things you can to do to make sure someone has permission to act on your behalf in a medical emergency.
If you’re not familiar with the role of a health care agent, this is essentially the person who will carry out your wishes regarding things like life-support, resuscitation and feeding tubes if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. Your health care agent will also handle the day-to-day decision making regarding your medical care including (but not limited to):
However, as a Gold River estate planning attorney, I can tell you that while choosing a health care agent may seem like an easy task, the process is actually much harder and complex when you start working to narrow down candidates.
Remember, your health care agent could be called on to make some of the most difficult and heart wrenching decisions they’ve ever faced. The job could also turn out to be time consuming and demanding if you are seriously hurt and require decisions to be made on a round-the-clock basis.
Not to mention, situations such as these can get very emotional. Your health care agent may be called on to carry out requests you’ve made, but they don’t personally agree with. They may also feel pressured by family members to make decisions contrary to what they know you would want under the circumstances.
For these reasons, it’s very important that you take your time in choosing a health care agent so you wind up with someone truly qualified for the job. If you’re feeling stuck and still not sure who to pick, here are the top three qualifications I ask my Gold River estate planning clients to consider when narrowing down their options:
As a final thought, you’ll also want to choose someone whom you feel totally comfortable sharing your medical preferences with. Your healthcare directive can only cover so many situations that could arise; therefore, it’s critical you give your agent as much direction as possible in case they are presented with a decision not addressed in your legal documents.
Of course if after going through this brief checklist you still have questions about how to choose a health care agent, I invite you to call our office at (916) 241-9661 and schedule a Free Peace of Mind Planning Session (normally $750). During this session we can discuss your options and make sure you truly have the right documentation in place to protect you and your family if the unthinkable occurs. However, these sessions are limited to 10 per month so call today!