Hi there. I’m Bridget Mackay, I’m an attorney in elder law and estate planning in Petaluma, California, and today I’m going to talk to you about picking your healthcare agent.

An advanced healthcare directive agent are some of the hardest people to choose when you’re putting together your estate plan. An advanced healthcare directive is a document that medical professionals rely on when you are no longer able to make your own health decisions. In them, you nominate who will make those decisions for you. You also give that person some direction as to how you would like to be treated, whether you want life support or comfort care in the last days of your life. And they give instruction based on that what you’ve told them to your medical professionals, that’s who your medical professionals look to in that situation. So you can see this choice is very important.

You should consider five questions when you’re thinking about who you want your agent to be.

  • One, is this person you’re thinking about aligned with your beliefs on the quality and quantity of life?
  • Two, if you have religious-based beliefs in that area, can they follow them, whether or not they’re part of your religion or not?
  • Three, will they be available on short notice? Sort of a practical question.
  • Four, along those same lines, can they be there for the long term? What if this person is having to make decisions because you’ve lost the ability to make decisions because of dementia or Alzheimer’s, so they need to go to doctor’s appointments with you and make some decisions about your care and placing your in institutions, if needed? Institutions is a bad word, but assisted living or care places.
  • Five, do you trust them to make the right decision about your health?

If you don’t already have a healthcare directive, get one. It is a basic document you should all or we should all have. If you don’t have one, contact an experienced estate planning attorney for help.