How To Choose A Health Care Proxy

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The person you appoint as your Health Care Proxy (or Health Care Power of Attorney) should be able to powerfully advocate for you if you should become unable to advocate for yourself.

This is a very important role, so spend some time thinking about who in your life might be able to best advocate for you.

Qualities Of A Health Care Proxy

Your Health Care Proxy (a.k.a. Health Care Power of Attorney, Agent, Representative, or Surrogate) should be a person with the following characteristics:

  • An understanding of your health condition, symptoms, and possibly your medical history
  • An understanding of how you want to be treated and the treatments you’d like to receive and not receive
  • Attention to detail 
  • An understanding of his or her duties, and a commitment to taking those duties seriously
  • Good communication skills

In addition, your health care power of attorney should be someone you trust, who you believe understands your values and will do his or her best to act in your best interest.

Choosing The Right Person To Serve As Your Health Care Proxy

If you’re considering naming someone as your Health Care Proxy but aren’t sure if it's the right person, it might be helpful to have a conversation about the duties and responsibilities of the position, as well as your health care decisions for the future. This may help to determine if the person you’re considering appointing understands your health care wishes, would feel comfortable advocating on behalf of you and your wishes, and would be the right person for the job.

To learn more about the responsibilities of a heath care power of attorney, see our article Naming a Health Care Proxy.

How To Name A Health Care Proxy

Every state has its own form, though it may go by a different name, such as Health Care Power Of Attorney, Agent, Representative, or Surrogate. In some states, the form for naming a Health Care Proxy is combined with the Living Will form. You can download your state's form from our directory of State-by-State Advance Directive Forms and indicate on the form the person who you would like to name as your health care power of attorney. Once you've completed the form, you need to have two witnesses countersign the document. The witnesses may be anyone over the age of 18 who is not the person you're naming as your Proxy.

Communicating With Your Health Care Proxy

Once you've chosen someone, you'll want to let that person know about your decision. Most people don't know what being a Health Care Proxy entails, but it's important to your future care that the person you've named knows his or her future responsibilities. We suggest that you share our How to Be a Good Health Care Proxy article, which has all the information your Proxy will need to understand the role.