Who Will Make Your End-Of-Life Decisions When You Are Incapacitated?

December 28, 2010

Filed under: Estate Planning,Medical Care — Tags: — Alexis @ 11:10 AM

As we get older, the threat of illness or injury increases, and many of us wonder what will happen if we fall or get injured.  Who will make important healthcare decisions if we become incapacitated?  How will medical personnel know how to treat us if we cannot communicate with them?  The answer to all of these questions is: Healthcare Agents.

A healthcare agent is the person you name in your Health Care Proxy to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make them for yourself.  This person will talk to doctors, manage your medical care, authorize treatment, and possibly even make life and death decisions.  Knowing all this, it is important to choose someone who thinks clearly under pressure, is not intimidated with medical problems, and who will keep the medical staff in check.  But beyond choosing the right person, it is essential to discuss your wishes with your agent ahead of time.

Executing a healthcare directive and nominating a healthcare agent is not just about choosing the right person to make the big life-and-death decisions for you, it’s also about taking care of the loved ones you leave behind.  Most people have strong wishes about life-support and end-of-life care, but rarely do they want those wishes carried out at the expense of their loved ones.  Creating a healthcare directive which outlines those wishes—and discussing those wishes with your agent and your family—is important not only for your own peace of mind, but also to ensure the peace of mind of your loved ones, those who will be left to mourn your absence after you’re gone.  As a health care directive, I give each client the “Your Way” workbook.

And if you don’t name an agent in a Health Care Proxy?  Your family will be forced to go to court and spend thousands of dollars pursuing a guardianship.