By Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
No matter your age, it can be important to choose someone who can act for you when you are unable to make medical decisions. Who you choose as your healthcare proxy and how you make that choice.
As you get older, though, your choice becomes even more urgent due to a heightened risk of health issues. Whether through a broader estate plan, at the request of your physician, or required by an HMO, as you get older you may be asked to fill out an Advance Directive. Below are five steps to help you determine how to choose a healthcare proxy.
1) Choosing Your Proxy
The first step is deciding who you want to serve as your proxy. Your proxy must be over 18 years old and of sound mind. After you have eliminated potential proxies based off these requirements, it is important to look at other considerations when determining your proxy.
Many hospitals require someone to be physically present to make critical care decisions, so geography should play a role in who your proxy is as they will need to live close enough to quickly get to the hospital in an emergency. Age is something you should also consider, beyond just whether they are legally allowed to serve as proxy. Not knowing how far into the future your proxy may need to serve, it is good to choose a proxy who is considerably younger than you to ensure they will be able to serve in the role into the future.
There is also a social consideration, as whoever you pick to be your proxy could face pushback from the rest of the family when making decisions that you have directed them to make. Is your proxy strong enough to weather that pushback?
And finally, there should be an emotional consideration. Can your proxy make the difficult call when it comes down to it and follow your wishes without getting off track because of their emotional connection to you? All of these questions are important when determining who to choose as your proxy.
It is also wise to choose multiple backups if, for whatever reason, your first proxy is not available at the time needed. Choosing someone outside of your friends or family is also an option, with professional fiduciaries or advocates available to serve as proxy.
2) Plan a Meeting and Ask Permission
After choosing your proxy, plan a meeting and ask their permission to be named. If they do not want this responsibility, it is better to know now than it is to name them and they refuse to act further down the road.
3) Discuss Your Wishes
After you have selected your proxy and have had a conversation with them about that, it is important to discuss your wishes. Make sure your proxy knows your wishes and will act on them and not their own.
4) Provide Paperwork for Proxy
Provide your proxy with a physical and digital copy of the directive as well as any worksheets you have used to make your decisions.
5) Inform Others Close to You
Inform your family members of your choice and fill them in on why you made the choice you did.