Accidents, serious illnesses and other situations sometimes cause otherwise healthy people physical or mental incapacity. People may not anticipate all the possible decisions that can arise during these types of life-threatening emergencies. Therefore, many name health care agents to make choices on their behalf in such circumstances.
Considering certain factors when choosing a health care agent may help people select the right person to voice their wishes.
Meeting the eligibility requirements
According to the New York State Department of Health, adults aged 18-years and older may serve as health care agents. The state allows people to choose someone they trust to make all or specific decisions regarding their medical treatment and care if they cannot speak or make choices for themselves. For example, many people name spouses or other family members, friends or attorneys as their health care agents.
The state restricts some parties from acting as health care agents. According to the New York state attorney general, when choosing someone to make medical decisions for them, the state does not allow people to name non-relative operators, administrators or employees of a hospital or nursing home where they are admitted. People also cannot name their physicians, unless married or related to their doctors.
Making the choice
When choosing a health care agent, people should select someone who will carry out their wishes. Heath care agents need not always agree with a grantor’s preferences, but they have to fulfill their obligations to make decisions according to the grantor’s wishes, and moral and religious beliefs.
Those in good health sometimes do not see the necessity in planning for incapacity. However, having advance care plans in place, including choosing a health care agent, may help ensure people’s wishes get carried out, even if they cannot voice them.