What To Do If Family Members Disagree

Released 7-25-2011
Even when there is positive family dynamics, a patient wants to be assured that your wishes are followed, be certain that the person you appoint to be your healthcare agent understands your wishes and will abide by them. Many times, it can be other than your immediate family. Your agent has the legal right to make decisions for you even if close family members disagree. However, should close family members express strong disagreement, your healthcare agent and healthcare provider may find it extremely difficult to carry out the decisions you would want.

If you foresee that your healthcare agent may encounter resistance from your family members, the following steps can help:

Give your primary physician copies of written communications you have made. Prepare a more specific, written living will. Make it clear in your documents that you want your agent to resolve any uncertainties that could arise when interpreting your living will. A way to say this is: “My agent should make any decisions about how to interpret or when to apply my living will”.

An important part of communicating your end-of-life wishes is discussing with your loved ones what you may need from them if you are faced with a life-limiting illness. Some questions that you may want to ask are: