Even if you have enjoyed good health throughout your life, you may eventually sustain a serious injury or develop a life-altering illness. After all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 60% of American adults have a chronic illness that may worsen over time.
You may have some strong beliefs about medical treatments, medication and end-of-life care. To ensure your doctors, relatives, spiritual advisors and others respect your beliefs, you may want to executive an advance health care directive. If an illness or injury makes it impossible for you to make medical decisions, your directive can also name an agent to make them for you.
Your agent should have your trust
When designating your health care agent, it is important to find someone you trust. This individual must understand your wishes and be willing to advocate for them. Consequently, you should have an in-depth conversation with your agent about your medical history, your priorities and even your religious beliefs.
Your agent should be tough
Your advance health care directive can be broad or specific. With a specific directive, you outline which procedures, medications and treatments you want and do not want. Simply put, your agent should have a spine. That is, he or she may have to push back against family members, physicians or others who may disagree with your choices.
Your agent should be available
While virtually anyone can serve as a health care agent, choosing someone who lives far away may not be ideal. Illnesses and injuries sometimes advance quickly. If your physicians cannot reach your health care agent, they may automatically provide care you do not want.
When planning your estate, it may be tempting to rush through your advance directive. Devoting some time and effort to choosing the right agent, though, is the most effective way to ensure everyone respects your medical wishes.