Critter Corner: How to Choose a Health Care Agent

Dear Angel,

I have an appointment to do my incapacity planning, and I’m a little indecisive about who I should choose as my health care agent. What qualities would make someone a good choice for a health care agent? I’m hoping this will help me make my choice.


Dee Sissions


Dear Dee,

A Health Care Agent (also called a Health Care Proxy, Health Care Surrogate, Agent under Advance Medical Directive, Agent under Health Care Power of Attorney, Medical Agent, or Medical Representative) is someone who will advocate for you if you should become unable to advocate for yourself.

The following are characteristics that are helpful for a health care proxy:

  • 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 Proxy should be someone you trust, who you believe understands your values, and will do his or her best to act in your best interest.

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.

Hope this is helpful,


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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