It is an important decision to make to have a living will and naming a health care agent with your living will is also a very important decision to make. Your living will states what life supporting measures you want to have taken, if any, should you become terminally ill or incapacitated and unable to speak and answer questions for yourself. A health care agent is named in your living will to act on your living will’s directives for your health care.
Choosing someone to be your health care agent is a very large decision. You should discuss your wishes at great length with the person you have chosen. The person you choose should know your wishes and be comfortable with them. By talking to the person you choose as your health care agent, you will help them to understand your choices and decisions about your end of life care. It is obviously important to ensure that the person you choose as your health care agent is willing and able to carry out the wishes as stated in your living will.
While talking to the person who is appointed as your health care agent is important, it is also important that you talk to your physician, attorney, clergy and family about the choices in your living will as well. It would be more difficult for them to find out that you chose to have no life sustaining measures taken when you were already ill and incapacitated.
There are many people that you can choose to be your health care agent, however you are NOT allowed to name any of the following people as your health care agent:
- Your doctor
- A treating health care provider
- A non-relative employee of a hospital, your doctor or other health care provider who is treating you.
- An operator of a nursing home.
- Operator of an assisted living facility or community care facility
- A non-relative employee of a nursing home, assisted living facility or community care facility.
Your living will and your health care agent only take over in authority when you are unable to make your own decisions, such as being in a coma, having been diagnosed with a terminal illness that has rendered you mentally or physically completely incapacitated or other incapacitation in which you can not be held liable for answering questions directly relating to your treatment or health.
The person that you choose as your health care agent should be someone that you trust and know well, and that in turn knows you well. Discussions should be held in private when you ask the person to be your health care agent, should you become incapacitated. Allow them an open floor to ask any questions that they have regarding your decisions.