When you create an advance directive and name someone to act as your health care agent, the question of who to select for this important position inevitably arises. While many people appoint their spouses or a close family member, you may want to take a little more time to think about the issue instead of immediately naming the person closest to you. There are several factors you will need to measure when choosing the right person for the job.
Your health care agent, sometimes known as a health care proxy or attorney-in-fact for health care, will need to be able to make decisions in light of both your desires and the medical facts. While your agent doesn’t have to be a medical professional, the person must be able to evaluate the opinions and advice given to him or her by your doctors and make a decision.
Your health care agent must also be able to take into consideration the opinions and concerns of your closest family members and friends without being persuaded to choose an action contrary to your desires. Your agent needs to be able to stand up and say what his or her decision is without giving too much consideration to whether or not other family members will agree.
Practically speaking, it’s better to appoint an agent who lives near you. If a medical emergency arises, your agent should be close-by so your doctors have little difficulty in contacting him or her.
Raymond J. German, LTD. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.