If you are a California resident who feels strongly about the type and quantity of medical care you receive, you may wish to consider executing a medical power of attorney that will give someone else the power to make medical care decisions for you if and when you are unable to make them for yourself. Aging Options explains that while your appointed representative can go by a variety of names, such as your health care agent, surrogate or attorney in fact, he or she will be charged with making your medical care decisions in the event a physician determines that you do not understand the decisions you must make and/or that you cannot communicate those decisions.
It is crucial that you name someone as your health care agent who you trust implicitly and who knows and agrees with your desires regarding such health care issues as the following:
- Which, if any, life support systems and/or life-sustaining treatments you wish
- Which, if any, anatomical gifts you want to make
- Whether or not you want an autopsy performed after your death
- How you wish to have your body disposed of after your death
- Who should have complete access to your medical records
Whom you should designate
Most people designate their spouse or an adult child as their health care agent. Others designate another family member or a close friend. When deciding whom to appoint, you should consider the following:
- How far away does he or she live from you?
- Does he or she completely understand and agree with your wishes?
- Does he or she understand medical terminology?
- Is he or she capable of making rational decisions while under emotional stress and strain?
- Is he or she assertive enough to go against the advice of a doctor or family member that conflicts with your own wishes?
- Is he or she willing to serve as your health care agent?
You also should consider designating a back-up health care agent to serve in the event that your first choice cannot or refuses to serve when needed. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.