One of the best ways to make sure your wishes are followed is to name a health care agent, the person that you choose to make health care decisions for you if you cannot. It is important to have a conversation with your health care agent about your wishes for future health care.
When selecting a health care agent, there are a few important things to think about:
- A health care agent should be someone you know and trust to follow your wishes about future health care. They must be over 18 years old. They cannot be your doctor or an employee of your doctor or health care facility unless they are also your close family member.
- Before naming a health care agent, talk with this person to be sure they would be a good agent for you. The person should be able to answer “yes” to these questions:
- Are you willing to take on this role and responsibility?
- Do you understand my wishes for future health care?
- Can you make the decisions I would want to make, even if you disagree?
- Can you make important health care decisions under stressful circumstances?
Watch a video that explains the role.
If you do not select a health care agent in this document, Washington State Law sets the following order for health care decision makers:
- A guardian appointed by a court (if applicable)
- Named health care agent by a written and signed Durable Power of Attorney Health Care
- Spouse or registered domestic partner
- Adult children*
- Adult siblings*
- Adult grandchildren who are familiar with the patient*
- Adult nieces and nephews who are familiar with the patient*
- Adult aunts and uncles who are familiar with the patient*
- A close adult friend who meets certain criteria
*If any group has more than one person, all the people in the group must agree to the same care. You can download a chart that illustrates the order here.