Naming someone to make medical decisions for you





HEALTH CARE PROXY

By naming someone as your Health Care Proxy you give them the power to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.   While this most often happens if you lapse into a coma or develop dementia, it is always a good idea to have a Health Care Proxy in case you get into an accident or you become suddenly unable to make decisions for yourself.

To name someone as your Health Care Proxy, you fill out and sign the Health Care Proxy form and sign it in front of witnesses.

Do I need a Heath Care Proxy if I have a Power of Attorney?

Absolutely!   The Health Care Proxy covers medical decisions and the Power of Attorney covers financial decisions.

Do I need a Health Care Proxy if I have a Living Will?

Yes.   While they cover similar subjects, the Health Care Proxy and the Living Will are different forms which do different things.   The Health Care Proxy gives the power to one or more persons to make all medical decisions for you when you cannot.   The Living Will expresses your wishes about whether you want to be kept alive using artificial means after a doctor has determined that you will not recover from a coma.   It is best to have both.

Who can be the agent for a Health Care Proxy?

Anyone who is legally competent can be your Health Care Proxy.   One primary agent is usually appointed along with at least one substitute agent.   While one spouse will often name the other spouse as their primary Health Care Proxy, many people fear that their spouse will find it hard to carry out some wishes such as withdrawing life support.   You should choose the person who you think is most likely to be able to carry out your wishes without having a hard time living with your decision.

When does your Health Care Proxy take effect? Your Health Care Proxy takes effect as soon as the form is signed by you and the witnesses.   Your Health Care Proxy, however, will never be able to override your decisions if you are competent to make decisions for yourself.

What if I decide I no longer want a Health Care Proxy?

In order to revoke your Health Care Proxy, you must notify the person you named and any Doctors/hospitals or health care providers that have the Health Care Proxy form.   You should call or tell them in person first and then confirm it in writing.

Where can I get a free Health Care Proxy form?

You can get more information about using a Health Care Proxy from the New York State Department of Health website.   The New York State Department of Health also makes available a free Health Care Proxy form which you can fill out and print.