Health and Wellness

What Questions Should You Ask When Choosing a Healthcare Proxy?

What Questions Should You Ask When Choosing a Healthcare Proxy?

What would happen if you weren’t able to make healthcare decisions for yourself? Who would you want to make these important decisions for you? It’s a topic you should consider and plan for well before you face a serious illness or medical emergency by creating an advanced care plan.

As part of your advanced care plan, you should choose someone to serve as your healthcare proxy, agent, or power of attorney. There are certain legal requirements concerning who can serve in this role, check your state’s guidelines or talk with a lawyer to make sure your wishes will be respected and carried out. When deciding who you would like to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are not able to make them for yourself, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this person able to make decisions effectively under pressure? Making healthcare decisions for someone who is seriously ill or gravely injured can be extremely stressful and decisions may need to be made very quickly. The person you choose should be able to focus on making sure you receive the care that you’ve outlined in your advance care plan and that you don’t receive any interventions you do not wish to undergo.
  • Will this person be available to meet with healthcare providers as needed? While some decisions can be made after talking with your physicians by phone, it’s usually better to have your proxy present when decisions are being made so he or she can better assess the situation. That means you may want to consider someone who lives near you. Also think about whether the person you’re considering has a job that would limit his or her ability to meet with your physicians, for example someone who’s serving in the military or whose job keeps him or her on the road most of the week.
  • Is this person assertive? Your healthcare proxy is there to ensure that the wishes you outline in your advance care plan are respected. For that reason, it’s wise to choose someone who is assertive and who will speak up, ask questions, and request second opinions as needed. Some people are hesitant to question a doctor’s recommendations or assessments, so they would probably not be as effective at advocating for you.
  • Does this person understand your moral and religious values? When choosing a healthcare proxy, you need to have a frank discussion with the person you’re considering so that you can share your values and find out if they’re willing to carry out your wishes. Your proxy doesn’t necessarily have to have the same values, but if you do not want to be put on a ventilator if there is no hope of recovery, you need to know that he or she will respect that wish even if they don’t share your beliefs. In addition, there may be situations that you haven’t specifically outlined in your advanced care plan where your proxy will need to make decisions based on an understanding of what you would want to happen.

Once you’ve chosen a healthcare proxy and he or she has agreed to serve in this role on your behalf, it’s important to have ongoing discussions about your wishes.  What types of care you want and do not want may change over time, so keeping the lines of communication open can help ensure that your proxy advocates for the care you want.

Talk to your SunTrust Private Wealth Management advisor who can connect you with a PinnacleCare health advisor to facilitate discussions with you and/or your loved ones in order to help you make the best possible decision when selecting your healthcare proxy. Learn more about SunTrust Private Wealth Management.

This post originally appeared on PinnacleCare is a private health advisory firm that provides health risk management support and coordination of healthcare needs. SunTrust Bank and its affiliates and the directors, officers, employees and agents of SunTrust Bank and its affiliates (collectively, "SunTrust") do not provide health care or health care advice and is not soliciting personal health information in any way. You should do your own research or due diligence to satisfy yourself as to the qualifications of any medical professional. SunTrust Bank and its affiliates and the directors, officers, employees and agents of SunTrust Bank and its affiliates (collectively, "SunTrust") are not permitted to give legal or tax advice. Clients of SunTrust should consult with their legal and tax advisors prior to entering into any financial transaction.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.


Investment and Insurance Products:

Are Not FDIC or any other Government Agency Insured   Are Not Bank Guaranteed  May Lose Value 

© 2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc

equal housing logoSunTrust Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. Member FDIC

equal housing logoEqual Housing Lender. SunTrust Mortgage, Inc

SunTrust, SunTrust Mortgage, SunTrust PortfolioView, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, SunTrust Premier Program, AMC Pinnacle, AMC Premier, Access 3, Signature Advantage Brokerage, Custom Choice Loan and SunTrust SummitView are federally registered service marks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Services provided by the following affiliates of SunTrust Banks, Inc.: Banking products and services are provided by SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. Trust and investment management services are provided by SunTrust Bank, SunTrust Delaware Trust Company and SunTrust Banks Trust Company (Cayman) Limited. Securities, brokerage accounts and insurance (including annuities) are offered by SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., a SEC registered broker-dealer, member FINRA, SIPC, and a licensed insurance agency. Investment advisory services are offered by SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc., a SEC registered adviser. GFO Advisory Services, LLC is a SEC registered investment adviser that provides investment advisory services to a group of private investment funds and other non-investment advisory services to affiliates. Mortgage products and services are provided by SunTrust Mortgage, Inc.

SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. - NMLS #2915, 901 Semmes Avenue, Richmond, VA 23224, 1-800-634-7928. CA: licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, IL: Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee #MB-989, Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, 100 W. Randolph, Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60601, 1-888-473-4858, MA: Mortgage Lender license #-ML-2915, NJ: Mortgage Banker License - New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, NY: Licensed Mortgage Banker—NYS Department of Financial Services, and RI: Rhode Island Licensed Lender.

"SunTrust Advisors" may be officers and/or associated persons of the following affiliates of SunTrust Banks, Inc.: SunTrust Bank, our commercial bank, which provides banking, trust and asset management services; SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., a registered broker-dealer, which is a member of FINRA and SIPC, and a licensed insurance agency, and which provides securities, annuities and life insurance products; SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc., a SEC registered investment adviser which provides Investment Advisory services.

SunTrust Private Wealth Management, International Wealth Management, Business Owner Specialty Group, Sports and Entertainment Group, and Legal and Medical Specialty Groups and GenSpring are marketing names used by SunTrust Bank, SunTrust Banks Trust Company (Cayman) Limited, SunTrust Delaware Trust Company, SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., and SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc.

SunTrust Bank and its affiliates do not accept fiduciary responsibility for all banking and investment account types offered. Please consult with your SunTrust representative to determine whether SunTrust and its affiliates have agreed to accept fiduciary responsibility for your account(s) and if you have completed the documentation necessary to establish a fiduciary relationship with SunTrust Bank or an affiliate. Additional information regarding account types and important disclosures may be found at

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey is the trade name for the corporate and investment banking services of SunTrust Banks, Inc. and its subsidiaries, including SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC.