Selecting Your Health Care Advocate

Choose the Most Suitable Individual To Oversee Your Medical Decisions When You Can’t

At Goldberg & Goldberg, we understand the critical nature of having a dedicated health care advocate when you’re unable to make medical decisions yourself. Designating a durable power of attorney for health care is a decision that holds immense weight. This person may be known as a health care proxy, surrogate, or attorney-in-fact in various states.

Commonly, individuals entrust this significant role to their spouses, partners, relatives, or close friends. It’s paramount that you have utmost trust in your chosen health care agent — someone with whom you can honestly discuss your medical care preferences. Your agent doesn’t necessarily need to agree with all your desires, but must unwaveringly honor your right to receive treatment that aligns with your wishes.

The Purpose of a Durable Power of Attorney

For those unfamiliar, a durable power of attorney for health care legally empowers another individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you’re incapacitated. This document might be known by diverse names such as Appointment of Health Care Proxy or Designation of Health Care Surrogate — regardless, its function remains consistent across nomenclature.

Critical Considerations for Choosing Your Agent

An assertive personality is crucial for your health care agent, as they may need to advocate fervently for your preferences against a rigid medical system or opposing family interests. If proximity is likely to be a factor due to prolonged illness, consider choosing someone located nearby who can effectively oversee your care directives.

Often, it’s beneficial to appoint the same person as both your health care and financial agent if you’re also establishing a durable power of attorney for finances. However, if you must select different individuals, ensure they possess a harmonious relationship and can collaboratively honor your health care and financial intentions.

Exclusion of Health Care Providers As Your Agent

In nearly all scenarios, health care providers like your doctor or employees at your treatment facility should not be your agents. Most state laws prohibit this to avoid any conflicts of interest. Nonetheless, exceptions might exist if your preferred agent is a relative or a co-worker at the same health care institution.

Be aware that your state may impose specific limitations on who can be appointed as your health care agent. Such restrictions are designed to prevent possible biases by those inherently disqualified from making health care decisions on your behalf.

The Risks of Appointing Multiple Agents

Naming a single individual as your health care agent is advisable when creating your power of attorney for health care. Appointing multiple agents can lead to disagreements and complications, potentially causing delays or legal battles that could hinder your desired care.

It’s considerate to discuss your decision and reasoning with those close to you, potentially preventing any feelings of exclusion or disappointment. If suitable, let them contribute to selecting the primary agent, with the understanding that you’ll confirm their decision and possibly designate others as alternates.

Selecting an Alternate Health Care Agent

It’s wise to appoint one or more alternates who can step in if your primary agent is unable to serve. Exercise the same careful judgment when naming alternates, ensuring they’re individuals capable of representing your health care interests if called upon.

Implications of Not Designating a Health Care Agent

If no appropriate agent comes to mind, it may be better not to appoint one. Instead, formulate a living will that articulates your medical care preferences. In the absence of an agent, health care professionals are required to respect your documented wishes or transfer your care to those who will.

Should you choose not to name an agent, it’s crucial to convey your health care intentions to doctors or hospital staff involved in your treatment. This proactive step assures that your care aligns with your desires.

For further guidance and to schedule your Free Consultation, contact Goldberg & Goldberg today at (301) 654-5757. We’re here to support you in safeguarding your health care decisions.

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