Incapacity Planning IV: Choosing the Right Agents

A designated health care or financial representative is also called an “Agent.” When selecting the agents who will be named in your incapacity plan, there are two important decisions to be made:

1. Who will manage your finances during incapacity; and
2. Who will make your medical decisions during incapacity?

Things to consider when deciding who to name as your financial agent and/or health care agent include:

  • Where does the agent live? With modern technology, the distance between you and your agent shouldn’t matter quite as much as it may have in the past. Nonetheless, someone who lives close by—particularly when it involves your medical needs—is probably a better choice than someone who lives in another state or country.
  • How busy is the agent? If your agent has a demanding job or travels frequently for work, they may not have time to take care of your finances and medical needs, regardless of the best intentions.
  • Does the agent have expertise in managing finances or in the healthcare field? An agent with work experience in finances or medicine may be a better choice than an agent without it.
  • Do you trust them to enforce the choices you have made, or to make choices that would reflect your own wishes if you can’t make the choices yourself?

Choosing the wrong person to serve as financial or health care agent can curtail the effectiveness of an otherwise well-designed incapacity plan. You can choose different individuals to fill each role—that is, one person in charge of health care decisions and someone else in charge of financial matters. Being an agent for another person is a serious undertaking. You’ll want to carefully consider your choice of agents and then discuss your decision with the person to confirm that they will, in fact, be willing and able to serve.