Who Should I Choose as My Health Care Agents?
Your health care agents make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to provide informed
consent at the time and have not already done so. You need to choose both a primary and contingent
health care agents. Your primary is your first choice agent, and the next contingent agent serves if the
previously named agent is unable or unwilling to serve when the time comes.
It’s best to have just one health care agent serve at a time. Committees do not work and just one
person needs to be the point person in dealing with medical professionals.
Instead of automatically appointing your spouse or your oldest child first, think through the ideal
characteristics of health care agents.
The ideal health care agent:
Cares about you and respects your wishes.
Can communicate effectively and gain respect from medical personnel.
Can be assertive when need be.
Can deal with medical discussions and decision-making.
Lives near you so he or she can meet with medical personnel.
Has a medical background.
For most people, it’s hard to find someone that fits all of these characteristics. The above characteristics
describe the ideal. Choose the person who fits the most characteristics and those that are most
important. For example, a medical background is helpful, but not mandatory; and, the agent living in
the same geographic area is helpful, but not mandatory. The other characteristics are more important.
Before naming an agent in your health care estate planning documents, be sure to consult them and ask
permission. Let them know the duties and time commitment, and answer their questions. Ask
contingent agents as well.
Examples of duties would be presenting your living will to the doctor if you are in an end-stage medical
condition, deciding which hospital to go to, and deciding whether to take medical course of action A or
medical course of action B.
Have your health care power of attorney and other medical documents drafted and executed under the
supervision of a qualified estate planning attorney. Your attorney can walk you through how to chose a
health care agent and best ensure that your documents work.
Experienced estate planning attorneys Seattle WA of Byrd Garrett PLLC offers estate planning and
business planning offers resources to residents of Seattle WA. To learn more about these free resources,
please visit http://www.byrdgarrett.com today.