Questions To Ask About Healthcare Proxy

Choosing a healthcare agent is one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make and one that should not be taken lightly. If or when the worst happens, your life can and might just be at the will of your healthcare agent.

A healthcare agent, also known as a healthcare attorney-in-fact, is a third party appointed to make end-of-life decisions on behalf of a guarantor through a medical power of attorney. Under the provisions, all decisions regarding the health of the guarantor will be made by the healthcare agent once the power of attorney or healthcare proxy has been triggered.

So how do you choose the right healthcare agent? Below is a list of the 4 most important questions you should ask before you decide on who is going to be your preferred healthcare agent.

  1. When does the healthcare proxy take effect?
    A healthcare proxy is not very different from a regular power of attorney. The only difference here is that the former is specifically designed to help in making health-related decisions on behalf of the guarantor. As such, it can only be implemented when the guarantor is either unable to make end-of-life care decisions or is unable to communicate those decisions. This could be as a result of a terminal ailment, a degenerative brain disease or a serious injury. Any of these could trigger the healthcare proxy and bring it into effect. The death of the guarantor could also activate the healthcare proxy, especially in matters concerning organ donation and burial rites.
  2. How far can you trust your healthcare agent?
    Some of the decisions that your healthcare agent may be called upon to make are quite grave and could literally mean the difference between life and death for you. As such, you need to choose an agent who you completely trust and who you are confident will have your best interest at heart in every decision. This is why most people prefer to choose either a friend or a relative as their healthcare agent.
  3. How capable is your healthcare agent?
    Having your best interests at heart does not always mean that your healthcare agent will make the best decisions on your behalf. Without fully understanding the questions at hand, all the good intentions in the world will not help your agent choose what’s right for you. He or she must be capable of understanding all the treatment options that are available to you in order to make an informed decision.
  4. How accessible is your healthcare agent?
    You do not know when your agent will be called upon so choose someone you know will always be available. It might also be a good idea to choose more than one agent in case the first one is unreachable or incapacitated.
  5. When can a healthcare proxy be revoked?
    You can revoke your healthcare proxy at any given time provided you have not lost control of your mental capabilities.

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