Choosing the right health care agent is the centerpiece to an effective advance directive. Your health care agent makes medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. Similar to choosing a personal representative, your health care agent should be someone you trust and who understands your values.
In Maryland, your health care agent must be at least 18 years old and, generally, can’t be an owner or employee of a health care facility where you would receive treatment (unless that person is your spouse or other close relative).
Your agent will follow the instructions you provide in your living will, but may have to make decisions about unanticipated situations. You also might give your agent the power to be flexible in interpreting your written instructions. That’s why it’s so important that your agent understands what you would want.
For many couples, the best choice will be each other. Adult children, siblings and friends can also be excellent agents.
Your health care agent should be able to do the following:
- Manage conflicting opinions between family members
- Live nearby or be able to travel if needed
- Have a frank conversation with you now about your wishes
- Separate his or her own feelings to follow your wishes
- Be a strong and effective voice in response to an unresponsive doctor or institution
- Likely be available for a long time
Tell your agent about your decision. Does your agent have all the information to make an effective decision on your behalf? Have a conversation now.
No one wants to think about end-of-life scenarios. A open discussion now will avoid the uncertainty and pain of your loved ones not knowing what you would want, or not being able to act on your behalf. Your lawyer can help you get started in making the best decisions.
Montefusco Estate Planning, LLC is an estate planning law firm in Frederick, MD. If you are interested in our services, contact us today. This information is written for the context of Maryland estate planning but is not legal advice for anyone. For more information, read our disclaimer.