Selecting a health care power of attorney

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Arizona law provides for health care directives or living wills that allow a trusted agent to make critical and difficult health care decisions, such as end of life care, for you if you are unable to. Agents designated in a health care power of attorney can also make important care decisions.

As in other areas of estate planning, people often select a relative or friend to perform these duties. If you consider designating a relative, you should still ensure that they will respect your wishes and carry through on your directives, even if they disagree with those wishes. A person that you select should also possess these characteristics.


Living nearby is a definite asset because that agent may need to go to a hospital or healthcare center quickly in an emergency. Living out of state may delay fast decision-making.


Consider whether the agent may be entrusted with this important responsibility by following through on your directives and speaking on your behalf. You need to review their character and values.

You must be comfortable speaking about your directives and healthcare wishes with them.


This agent must be able to stand up to other individuals, such as emotional relatives and health care providers, and follow through on your directives. They should be able to resist pressure from family and friends and communicate clearly without second-guessing themselves.


The selected individual should understand how medical care works. They do not have to be a health care practitioner but should be able to ask the right questions about medical tests, procedures, prognosis, and the value of a medical intervention.

They must be willing, for cause, to challenge suggestions or treatment options that violate your wishes. It is also helpful if your designee is willing to research and learn about your condition and treatment.

Communication skills

Your designee must clearly and effectively communicate, especially under pressure. They should be able to keep their composure and address issues directly without equivocation or deviation.


Having a designee who is overwhelmed reduces their ability to carry out your wishes and causes stress for family members. Talk to potential designees and honestly discuss your wishes and their duties. Assure that they are candid when they discuss their willingness to serve.

Attorneys can assist with preparing powers of attorney, living wills and other important estate documents. They can help assure that your plans and documents comply with Arizona law.