A health care proxy, or health care directive, is a document that names a person, or proxy, who expresses another person’s wishes and makes health care decisions on that person’s behalf if he or she is unable to do so him or herself. One does not have to be terminally ill to create a health care directive in Minnesota, and in fact, one should not wait until he or she has received a terminal diagnosis to follow through with such an important task as selecting a health care agent.
According to Forbes, when families have not had the conversation of what to do if a loved one becomes terminally ill and unable to make decisions for him or herself, they often find themselves stuck at the sick person’s bedside with many factors weighing on them. One such factor is emotional ties. It is not uncommon for individuals to let their emotions take over and prevent them from doing what they know in their hearts and minds needs to be done. Emotions also cause families to argue over who should make the decisions and what those decisions should be. If anything, individuals should create a health care directive if only to save loved ones the emotional anguish of having to make tough decisions on their own.
Deciding to create a health proxy is only one half of the equation. The other half is deciding who to name as an agent. FindLaw lists five factors one should consider when selecting his or her healthcare proxy. Those are proximity, assertiveness, family dynamics, longevity and financial agent. Ideally, one’s health care agent should be someone who lives nearby, can make tough decisions in the face of adversity and will be around for a while. Also, though one should never let family members sway his or her decision in this matter, it is important for individuals to consider how his or her decision will impact the overall family dynamics. Finally, one should refrain from appointing the same person to be his or her financial agent and health care agent, as this could end up causing conflicts of interest.