How to Select a Health Care Agent

Who Makes a Good Health Care Agent?

Your Health Care Agent should be someone you know well and trust to follow your wishes about future health care. Ideally, choose one Health Care Agent and one or two backup (alternate) Health Care Agents. A Health Care Agent also is known as a power-of-attorney for health care, substitute decision-maker, proxy or surrogate.

How do I choose the right person?

Before choosing your Health Care Agent, ask yourself:

  • Are they at least 18 years old?
  • Will they be clearheaded in difficult or stressful situations?
  • Will they be available when needed?
  • Can I talk with them about my personal belief and values?
  • Will they be able to ask questions and get answers from doctors and hospital staff?
  • Will they follow my wishes, even if they don’t agree?
  • Will they be able to stand up for me against those who disagree?
  • Are they willing to accept this role?

When is my Health Care Agent involved?

Your health care team will call on your Health Care Agent only when you are unable to make medical decisions and/or cannot communicate. Your Health Care Agent focuses only on health care decisions and is not authorized to make financial or business decisions for you.

What decisions might my Health Care Agent be asked to make?

  • Starting, continuing, or stopping medical care or services, such as tests, medications, treatments, and surgery.
  • Releasing my medical records.
  • Choosing where and how I get my care.
  • Assisting with funeral arrangements.

Go here for information about being a health care agent.


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