Do I Need a Health Care Proxy?

senior couple smiling while shaking hand with financial advisor

Once we become adults, nobody has the right to speak for us. Unfortunately, there may be times in our lives when having someone to make important decisions for us may be critical in life-challenging emergencies. A healthcare proxy will appoint someone for these very instances when we want or need someone to speak on our behalf. Although you do not need to have an attorney create a health care proxy, having the experienced guidance of an estate planning lawyer can help answer any questions or concerns about the responsibilities of a health care proxy.

Everyone Should Have an Advance Directive for Their Health Care

Advance directives are not only for the elderly. If you lose the ability to communicate or make decisions for yourself in any way, whether that is due to a medical emergency or if you have developed dementia, an advance directive guides decision makers on what you would wish for yourself. Advance directives typically have two components, a living will, and a health care proxy.

The living will, or instruction directive, will give specific directions about your care, typically in end-of-life situations. A health care proxy appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. Unfortunately, without a health care proxy, the courts may have to make critical medical decisions for you.

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A health care proxy, or a medical power of attorney, is a legal instrument that allows another trusted individual to make health care decisions for you cannot do it for yourself. Unlike a living will, a health care proxy will give your agent or “proxy” as much or as little latitude as you are comfortable with in making important decisions about your medical care.

Even when you have close family nearby, competing opinions can substantially delay important decisions that may have to be made in emergencies. Your health care proxy gives one person the authority to make these important decisions on your behalf. Because the document doesn’t outline specific actions, however, you need to have an important discussion with this person so they understand what your wishes are.

Who Should You Name As Your Proxy?

A health care proxy will name one person and an alternate to act on your behalf in the case of an emergency. Consequently, that person should be someone you know well and trust to make decisions on your behalf. Although family members often weigh-in in times of great emergency, this person will be the ultimate decision maker and the one who the medical providers will take direction from.

When considering a proxy, you will want to name someone you not only trust but someone willing to take on the responsibility. This should be someone who is not only responsible and can weigh important consequences but also someone who can be decisive without getting embroiled in family dynamics.

Having an Important Discussion With Your Proxy

Your proxy must understand what your wishes are in certain scenarios. What would you want done if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and not expected to recover? What if you suffered a coma and were not expected to improve? What would you decide to do if you required life support and would be fully dependent on others? These are important matters to discuss with your proxy so he or she understands how you would make these decisions for yourself.

Having a health care proxy is just one important component of having a comprehensive estate plan. If you have any questions about health care proxies, advance directives, or any other questions about planning for the future of your estate, the experienced estate planning lawyers at the Matus Law Group are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.

 

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Christine Matus

Christine Matus