When deciding on health care agents (those individuals who will make your health care decisions in the event of incapacity), there are several factors to consider. First, you should think about whether the individual would be willing to serve in this role. You do not want to list someone as your agent who will not be willing to make hard decisions on your behalf. You should also consider whether the individual will make the decisions you would want as opposed to making the decision they would prefer instead. This individual should be willing to fulfill your wishes with regards to health care decisions even if they personally do not agree with them. A final factor is whether the individual will serve as your advocate. You want someone to be your health care agent who is willing to question the advice of doctors if it does not seem correct, and be willing to obtain second opinions.
In my experience, it is best to have only one agent serve at a time. When there is more than one decision maker, there is the possibility of disagreement. This could lead to a delay in medical assistance as well as court involvement. The purpose of having a health care agent is to be able to have a health care decisions made in a quick, expeditious manner without court involvement. I recommend to clients that they discuss their decision on health care agent appointment with their families. It is best for your family to know ahead of time who will be the decision maker. It is also a way for you to explain to your family why you have chosen only one person at a time to act and the order of those individuals authorized to act.
Contributed by MH attorney and partner Katherine A. O’Connell
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This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.