Despite having good health throughout your life, a catastrophic injury or serious illness may render you incapable of making your own medical decisions. You do not have to leave your treatment to chance, though. As part of your comprehensive estate plan, you can designate a health care agent.
Your health care agent makes medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot make them for yourself. Even though California law places few restrictions on who may serve as a health care agent, not every person makes a good one. Here are three qualities of an effective health care agent.
It certainly is not necessary to choose a doctor or another health care professional as your health care agent. Still, you probably want your agent to have a basic understanding of medical procedures and end-of-life care. At a minimum, your agent should understand the medical procedures you want and do not want doctors to use.
You and your health care agent may have different views about medicine, medical procedures, end-of-life care and other relevant matters. While your agent does not need to agree with you, he or she should have enough compassion to respect your wishes.
Your doctors, relatives and friends may strongly disagree with your medical views. If you want everyone to respect your intentions, though, your health care agent must be willing to resist pressure. By choosing someone who has a metaphorical backbone, you likely boost your chances of achieving the outcomes you want.
Because your health care agent may hold your life in his or her hands, it is critical to pick the perfect person for the job. Ultimately, you may have to put in some effort to find an appropriate agent.