A health care proxy can go by many names: power of attorney, health care agent, guardian, surrogate and so forth. All of these names are reflective of the chief responsibility of a health care proxy: looking out for a patient's interests. By designating a trusted friend or family member as your health care proxy, you are entrusting this person with the power to make decisions on your behalf and the responsibility to make sure your living will is followed.
Choosing a health care proxy is a sensitive matter, and some people decide to turn to a friend rather than a family member, based on the notion that it might be too emotional a responsibility for a spouse or sibling. In any case, make sure you discuss the issue with your potential proxy. Be certain he or she is willing to follow your wishes absolutely, even if the person disagrees with you about them.
Depending on the laws in your state and your particular arrangement, you may have to draw up separate paperwork for your health care proxy or be able to designate him or her in your living will document. All such paperwork should be filed with your doctors and health care providers.