A health care proxy, also sometimes known as an agent or the person named in your healthcare power of attorney, is going to make decisions for you when necessary. Using a medical power of attorney is a very common part of estate planning. You get to select the person who can make medical choices if there is ever a situation where you cannot do so.
For example, you may know that your odds of a stroke or a heart attack are increasing as you get older. Both of these could leave you incapacitated and needing serious medical treatment, but you’d be unable to make those decisions. You need a healthcare proxy because this person is going to keep your best interests in mind and work with your medical team.
But what should you look for in a healthcare proxy? Let’s look at a few of the most common things.
The first and perhaps most important thing that you need is a person that you deem trustworthy. Not only do you know that they’re going to make the best decisions, but you know that you can trust them to be present and engaged with this process when it takes place. This individual will be making decisions that could impact the rest of your life, so trust is paramount.
Additionally, you need someone who understands your health conditions and medical treatment options. This doesn’t mean that they have to be an expert in those medical options or that they have to know every detail about your condition the way that a doctor or a nurse would. But they need to have a general understanding of what you want and what’s available so that they can make intelligent decisions on your behalf.
Finally, you simply need someone who is willing to do this. Many people are capable of doing it, but they feel that it would be emotionally difficult. They don’t think they could actually make major decisions for a loved one and they don’t want that pressure. This is okay. But you certainly need to find someone who doesn’t feel this way, because they need to be willing to take on the responsibility.
Once you find the right person, then you need to consider the legal steps to set up your healthcare proxy officially.