There may be a time when you are unable to make medical decisions on your own. With an advance medical directive, you can provide instructions as to the types of treatment that you would like to receive if you are incapacitated. Your agent will be the one who ensures that those instructions are followed.
State law determines who can act as an agent
As a general rule, an agent can be anyone of sound mind who is at least 18 years of age. In many cases, the medical directive itself must be witnessed by a party that is allowed to do so under state law. Generally speaking, the witness cannot be a doctor or other type of medical provider.
Make sure to keep HIPPA laws in mind
Your agent may not be able to fully act on your behalf if your medical directive does not comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA). If a state has enacted its own version of HIPPA, a medical directive must comply with those laws as well.
Review the document regularly
It is a good idea to review all portions of an estate plan on a regular basis. There is a chance that laws will change, which might make a medical directive obsolete. Furthermore, there is a chance that an agent may no longer be able or willing to act on your behalf. An estate planning attorney can help you create a medical directive or review any documents that you currently have.
Creating an estate plan can help you both while alive and after you pass away. In addition to a medical directive, you may want to consider creating a trust to help manage your assets. An attorney can provide more insight into the estate planning documents you should consider.