A healthcare representative is a person you name in advance to make your decisions relating to your healthcare and if verbiage is included, also make mental health decisions. This named person must be trusted to abide by your wishes and beliefs as you have indicated during your life and in writing such as an executed Living Will. This named person will be your sole representative who can visit you in health care facilities, oversee treatment, authorize medical treatments, such as surgery, blood transfusions, or drugs; review your medical records; and chose your medical care providers. This person shall be able to make your critical and end-of-life decisions including if you should be removed from life support. This person may have to be strong-willed to stand up to other family members as to health care decisions. I think it is important, if possible, to have someone who is geographically close to be able to be physically present if an emergency or healthcare procedure/surgery is at hand.
In order to appoint a healthcare representative in Indiana, the appointment must meet these requirements:
- Be in writing;
- Be signed by the appointor or by a designee in the appointor’s presence; and
- Be witnessed by an adult other than the representative.
This appointment does not become effective until the appointor becomes incapable of consenting. And stops once you become capable of consenting again. It may be revoked orally.
If you do not put in writing who you want to be your healthcare representative, Indiana law provides the following pecking order for you:
- A judicially appointed guardian of the person;
- Adult child;
- Adult sibling;
- Adult Grandchild;
- Nearest relative not named above;
- A friend who has maintained contact with the individual and familiar with your personal health and religious beliefs; and
- The person’s religious superior, if the individual is a member of a religious order.
It is very important to have this document executed in advance and available to a person named to present to your healthcare providers. I recommend you place an executed healthcare appointment on file with your primary healthcare provider.