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Choosing a Health Care Agent

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Talk with your family about whom you have selected as your health care agent and explain the reasons why. Try to openly discuss the types of medical care you would or would not want under various circumstances. Make it an ongoing conversation. You may decide to first introduce the idea by bringing up the fact that you have selected an agent. If your family has difficulty discussing the issue, provide more information gradually.

Make sure your advance directive forms are kept in a safe but accessible place, such as in your desk with other important papers. Let your loved ones know where you keep your forms. Give copies to:

  • The person that you choose for your agent and any alternate agents.
  • Your lawyer.
  • Your doctor or doctors.
  • Family members.
  • Any other person who may be called if you have a medical emergency.

Do not keep your advance directive forms in a safe deposit box. If you are not able to communicate, your family may not know how to access these forms. Also, don't rely on your lawyer to be able to provide the documents when they are needed. Your family may not know whom to contact.

You can make changes to any advance directive at any time. This includes changing your health care agent. You should fill out a new form for any changes except very minor ones, such as a new phone number or address.

Communicate with your health care agent. If you change your mind about medical care matters and make a new living will, keep your health care agent up to date.

For more information on living wills and medical powers of attorney, see the topic Writing an Advance Directive. For more information on other end-of-life issues, see the topics Hospice Care and Care at the End of Life.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 29, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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