Choosing an Agent

A durable power of attorney for healthcare is only as good as the person you name to be your agent. Your agent is the person you have chosen to speak and make decisions on your behalf. If this person knows your treatment wishes and is willing to carry them out, you’ll probably be well represented. Be sure to tell your agent what’s important to you.

Two women talking together over coffee.

Who to choose

Here are suggestions for choosing an agent:

  • You can name a family member, close friend, minister, priest, or rabbi.

  • You should name one person as your agent. Then name one or two alternates. You need a backup person in case your first choice can’t be reached when needed.

  • Talk with each person you're thinking of naming as your agent or alternate. Do this before you decide who should carry out your wishes.

Your agent should be ...

  • A competent adult, age 18 or older

  • Someone you trust and can talk to about the care you want and what's important to you

  • Someone who supports your treatment choices

In many states, your agent can’t be ...

  • Your healthcare provider

  • An employee of your provider or of a hospital, nursing home, or hospice program where you receive care

Some states have other restrictions on who can be named as an agent for an advance directive.

Be prepared

Tip: It's a good idea to write down your wishes and give a copy to your agent and all others who are involved with your healthcare.

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