One of the smartest documents that an individual can create to protect themselves and their assets in the event of sudden incapacity is a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney is a document that grants a specified individual the power to make medical decisions on your behalf should you ever be in a state in which you cannot do it for yourself. This chosen individual is referred to as a “health care proxy,” “health care agent,” or “power of attorney.” Choosing the right health care proxy is no small task, as this person may be charged with decisions concerning life-or-death matters. Because of this, it is extremely important that you carefully consider all of your options before naming any one individual.

At the Renton Law Offices of Dan Kellogg, our estate planning attorney can help you prepare your durable power of attorney as well as evaluate the merits and pitfalls of each of your potential health care proxies.

Important Considerations to Make When Choosing Your Health Care Proxy

Our Renton estate planning lawyers have years of experience in helping individuals name a health care proxy that will fulfill their requirements and ensure that their health care wishes are met. Some questions that we ask individuals to help them determine whether or not an individual is fit to be their health care agent include:

  • Is the person assertive? It is very important that the individual you choose to make health care decisions on your behalf is an individual who can stand their ground in the face of a knowledgeable health care provider and/or a stubborn family. Oftentimes, family members will feel that they know what is best for a sick individual, and will try to make decisions regarding your health based off of their own interests and beliefs rather than yours. To prevent any contention over your health care, and to ensure that your wishes are met, make sure that the person you choose to advocate on your behalf is someone who can stand their ground.
  • Does the person live close to you? Oftentimes, when an individual needs a health care agent, it is because they have experienced a sudden and long-term disability or incapacitating condition. Though it is not a requirement that the individual live near you, it may be helpful, especially if you are hospitalized for months at a time, and especially if you are expected to undergo a set of surgeries over the course of that time. With the health care proxy near by, they can ensure that all medical personnel abide by your wishes for health care, and not someone else’s wishes for you.
  • Will that person also be your financial agent? While there is no right or wrong answer to this, it is something you should consider before making any final decisions. Some people feel more comfortable in allowing the same person to make both health care and financial decisions on their behalf, as they typically only trust one person enough to do either or. On the other hand, some individuals feel that it would create a conflict of interest for that person, especially if you have a good deal of money and/or assets.

Another consideration to make is whether or not you want to name just one health care agent or two. By naming one health care proxy, you minimize conflict over your health care as much as possible; however, by naming two, you can ensure that decisions made on your behalf are not made rashly, but rather, only after thorough discussion between both parties.   

Finally, before making any final decisions, familiarize yourself with what a health care agent can and cannot do, and what powers you have once a decision is made. Northwest Justice Project’s FAQ sheet provides valuable information for those in the initial stages of creating a durable power of attorney.

Consult a Renton Estate Planning Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Dan Kellogg, our Renton estate planning attorneys have years of experience in helping individuals draft sound durable power of attorneys, as well as in choosing the best persons to help carry them out. If you are in the throes of creating your durable power of attorney, consult a Renton estate planning lawyer to ensure that you make the best decisions for your health and your future. Contact our team today to schedule your private consultation or call our offices (425) 227-8700.