Choosing Your Health Care Agent
Choosing your health care agent is important, so that someone you trust can speak for you if you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. Choosing a health care agent requires some thought.
Most people choose a family member or close friend. Choose someone 18 years or older who knows you well. You cannot choose someone who provides medical care for you. You need to choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes even if the decisions become difficult. Often the best agent is not the person closest to you.
When you discuss your choices for medical care with your health care agent, include various situations that may come up and explain what you would want. Be sure to ask if he or she is willing to act on your behalf in these situations.
In New York State you appoint one primary agent and one alternate agent. The alternate agent is a backup in case the primary agent is unable to serve.
When you make your choice you may want to think about:
- Who is likely to be near you and available?
- Who is best able to talk to doctors and medical staff to make your choices known?
- Who is steady in a tense situation?
- Who has good relations with all family members and is respected by your family?
If you choose an agent who is not a family member, tell your immediate family members who you have chosen and why. It is important that your family and your medical team know who legally speaks for you. If you have conversations with all the people who are important to you and tell them what your choices are, there is less risk of conflict.