Even though you have been healthy throughout your life, it is impossible to predict the future. Eventually, whether because of a serious injury or unexpected illness, you might have to deal with incapacitation. If so, you simply will not be able to make your own medical decisions.
If you do not want to leave your personal health care to chance, you might want to pick a health care agent. According to Ohio law, your health care agent has the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot make them for yourself.
You have broad flexibility to choose the health care agent you want, provided you pick a competent adult. However, your agent cannot be your doctor or your nursing home’s administrator. This makes sense, as you and these individuals might have conflicts of interest.
While virtually anyone can act as your health care agent, some individuals are better than others. When picking your agent, you should be sure the person has the necessary skills to do the job effectively. These usually include the following:
- The ability to respect your wishes, even if your agent disagrees with them
- The ability to advocate for your wishes, even if your relatives, doctors or others disagree with them
- The ability to make decisive decisions quickly
Your estate plan
When interviewing prospective health care agents, it is important to discuss your goals and wishes with each one. To make things easier for your agent, you also might want to clearly define your intentions in your estate plan.
Ultimately, drafting an advance directive, living will and other relevant documents can help you maintain as much control as possible over your future medical care.