Our Easy 3 Step Guide to Selecting a Healthcare Proxy

Have you ever heard someone say that they wouldn't want to be a burden to their loved ones? Any expert will tell you that one of the most important parts of advance care planning is to name a spokesperson to speak on your behalf.

If you are unable to communicate your wishes, someone will have to make decisions for you. Without a spokesperson, decisions will still be made, but without any input from you.

When you designate a spokesperson, you choose who will speak on your behalf; your loved ones will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Here is our easy 3 step guide to determining who your Healthcare Spokesperson should be:

1) Determine who you should entrust to be your spokesperson

For some people, choosing a spokesperson is simple. For others, it is difficult to decide which family member or friend they would want to speak for them. Any competent adult can be your spokesperson, including your spouse, a relative or a friend.

Your spokesperson should be someone that:

  • You trust
  • Is willing to speak on your behalf
  • Knows your values and preferences
  • Can separate their feelings from yours
  • Is willing to listen to your wishes
  • Will be available when needed
  • Can make good decisions and stick by them

2) Think about what questions you may have for them AND ask them

Since your spokesperson will be required to speak on your behalf when you cannot do so, it’s important that you feel confident that they know you well and are willing to represent your wishes. 

Here are some questions you might want to discuss with a potential spokesperson beforehand:

  • If I cannot communicate for myself, are you willing to take on the responsibility of speaking for me?
  • Will you respect my wishes, even if you disagree or think they are foolish?
  • Will you make sure my wishes are followed, even if you would make different choices for yourself?
  • Will you stand by me even if the going gets rough?

If the person you are designating has some additional questions you can refer them to the section of our website just for Proxies. To answer some common questions and help them better understand this important role.

3) Make it legal and document them as your spokesperson.

After you speak with your spokesperson about your goals, values, and preferences, you must document your choice of a spokesperson in writing. Using a platform like My Living Voice is a great way to document your spokesperson and gives you the proper instructions for making it a legal document depending on your state. To be legally recognized in most states, the completed form must be witnessed and/or notarized. Rules on who can witness the form differ from state to state.

If you change your mind, you can cancel or change your designated spokesperson by notifying him or her verbally or in writing. To make sure there is no misunderstanding, it is best to inform your healthcare provider and to destroy all copies of the old document, or write "Revoked" in large letters across the name of each spokesperson whose authority you want to cancel.  Then, put your signature next to the changes.

When you choose a healthcare proxy, you’re taking a crucial step toward ensuring that your decisions are carried out the way that you want.