Health care proxies are legal documents that enable you to appoint someone as your agent in case of incapacitation, in case something occurs which makes decisions on your behalf impossible. They can communicate with doctors, review medical records and make decisions regarding treatments and tests on your behalf – an especially valuable service for elderly or seriously ill people; most states allow adults this right.
Your agent must understand your wishes and communicate them clearly to others. Additionally, it’s a good idea to discuss with this individual your preferences as well as inform them they can overrule any time if it is in your best interests. In some states this document also acts as living will.
Documents typically state that an Advance Directive only becomes active if your doctor determines you cannot make decisions independently. Each state varies in this respect, so it’s wise to have your physician assess your capacity before naming someone to act for you. In case someone you initially choose becomes unavailable or unavailable due to personal beliefs or family circumstances, successors should also be named as back-up options (successors). It is also wise to name multiple persons willing and capable of carrying out your wishes regardless of personal biases and feelings towards yourself or their own family circumstances.
Some individuals believe that any individual should be allowed to appoint their own health care agent without needing to go through a process to determine incapacity first. Unfortunately, New York law does not currently allow this, however some advocates are pushing legislation in order to change these rules.
As part of your advance directives, it’s advisable to create an advance directive known as a power of attorney for healthcare or “living will.” This document expresses your wishes regarding end-of-life care; some people also combine both into one “living trust”. Your health care proxy may need updating at any point; be sure to do this if your wishes or feelings have changed significantly over time.
Once you have established a health care proxy, make copies and store it safely. Copies should be given to your agent, physician, family members and close friends – as well as being kept in your wallet or purse and other important papers – whenever your agent makes decisions on your behalf; ensure everyone who has copies is aware of what was said during these discussions; every time you visit a medical facility bring this documentation with them so staff members are aware what information has changed or has come into conflict with each other. This will prevent misunderstandings or conflicting information coming into conflict resulting from conflicting conversations or information coming into conflicting records of these discussions taking place; every time an agent makes decisions on your behalf on your behalf you must obtain written records of what transpired during these conversations so as to prevent misunderstandings or conflicting records of the conversation is aware.