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My mother may be considering naming an unrelated, and not well-known, person to be her agent in her healthcare directive. My siblings and I live out of state and quite far away from my mother. The person being considered for agency currently drives my mother to medical appointments and apparently my mother confides in her about her medical issues and asks for her advice. My mother knew the person's father and I believe became acquainted with her only recently. What are the legal and financial dangers for the children if my mother makes this decision?

Thanks for the comments, all. They're actually reassuring. To be honest, it's my sister who is most concerned about this. She tends to think that anyone helping our mother has an ulterior motive and has their eyes on mother's money. If the document in question were a POA, I would definitely be concerned. I also realize that, since we children have chosen not to move close to mom, and she refuses to move close to either of us, there are consequences that all of us have to accept.
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Reply to Longplay53
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A wife in my caregiver group named her son's best friend as her husband's health care proxy. (Well, technically her husband named him, but you know what I mean ...)

Why? The son and this friend grew up together and were in and out of each other's houses like one big happy family. Both men were now doctors. She liked to be able to say, "Dr. Goodfriend will be making that decision." Having a doctor as your healthcare proxy has some clout. And she thought the friend would make decisions in love, but be able to be more objective that her son.

I can see some advantages to having a non-relative as a Medical POA, as long as that person is very familiar with the beliefs and wishes of the principal.

For example, I do not want a feeding tube (except possibly for a short time while something is healing -- nothing permanent.) All my family knows that and I can trust them to honor that. But what if I knew they opposed that decision? I'd pick someone who was on my wavelength about medical matters to be my medical POA.

In this case it sounds like proximity was a major consideration. Your mother is picking someone close who is apparently aware of her medical wishes. Makes sense to me.
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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Interesting question.

On the face of it, there isn't an issue. The agent's responsibility is to execute the wishes of the person she represents. If this non-relative is a conscientious person and has thoroughly discussed the contents of the directive with your mother so that she is clear about what your mother's wishes are, it could even be argued that she will do a better job than a family member who could find it much more difficult to set his or her own emotions and wishes to one side.

As this is a health proxy, there also shouldn't be any financial risks. The only "risk", if you see it like that, might arise if the proxy erred on the side of caution and opted for treatments or investigations which family members might feel more confident in deciding against; but one assumes they would hardly be doing that for reasons of economy. And the HCP would not give the proxy any authority to manage your mother's finances.

When you think through the practicalities of the thing... it is an obvious advantage for the proxy to be there on the spot when decisions need to be made. Would any family members be able to make themselves available just as easily?

The first step, unless there's some good reason not to, is surely to talk to your mother about what she is thinking; and ideally to talk to the lady concerned as well. Have you ever met her? What do you know about her?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Well the obvious ramification is that, should your mother not be able to speak for herself, this person will have the final say in beginning or stopping any treatment and you will have none. A healthcare proxy is not the same as a financial POA so unless your mother is thinking of appointing this person in that capacity also there shouldn't be any financial ramifications - but she should certainly name someone.

I think you should all take into consideration what the plans are for the long term when your mother needs care and can no longer live on her own.
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Reply to cwillie
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