4 factors to consider when naming a health care agent

Adults of any age could end up facing situations in which injury, illness or advanced age lead to a need for health care assistance. If you become incapacitated, someone else will likely have to make health-related decisions for you. Rather than leave the appointment for that responsibility up to chance, you may wish to take the proper steps to appoint a health care agent yourself.

By filing the proper power of attorney documents, you can ensure that your desired caretaker takes over your health care decisions should the need arise. Because you will likely place a great deal of importance on this role, you may wish to consider these four factors when making your appointment:

  • Family dynamic: Tensions often run high when a family member ends up in a difficult situation related to health issues. As a result, loved ones may begin to fight amongst themselves when it comes time to make necessary decisions. Therefore, when making your health care agent appointment, you may wish to choose someone who you trust to carry out decisions in a manner of which you approve, and you may wish to speak to other family members to explain your decision in hopes of lessening the likelihood of unnecessary strife.
  • Attitude: The attitude your agent has toward the role can significantly affect your care. For instance, if an individual has a naturally passive attitude, he or she may not have the necessary qualities to enforce your care wants and needs. Individuals who tend to lean toward more assertive attitudes may prove effective when it comes to handling disagreements and taking the necessary action to handle conflict.
  • Age: Because the need for a health care agent may not come about for years, you may want to appoint an individual who has reached an age at which he or she could make difficult decisions but who also likely has a considerable number of years left in life. A spouse or adult child may prove a better agent than your elderly parents.
  • Location: The location of your agent is another important aspect to consider when naming a health care power of attorney. If many of your family members live on the other side of the country or other far-reaching locations, you may wish to consider someone closer to your home. Because a health care agent may need to carry out duties for an extended period of time, appointing someone close by may reduce the necessity of him or her having to move.

In order for the court and other necessary entities to consider your agent appointment valid, you may need to ensure that you file the legal paperwork in the proper manner. If you are interested in assistance with such an endeavor, you may wish to consult with an experienced California estate planning attorney.

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