• What is a health care proxy?
    • A health care proxy is a document that you (the principal) can execute when competent giving another person (the agent) the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are later unable to make or communicate such decisions yourself.
  • Why sign a health care proxy?
    • If you ever become incompetent, it is important that someone has the legal authority to communicate your wishes concerning medical treatment. This is true especially if there were to be a disagreement among your family members about your treatment. By executing a health care proxy, you ensure that the direction you have given your agent will be carried out.
  • Whom should I appoint as my agent?
    • Because your agent is going to have the authority to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to make such decisions yourself, your agent should be a family member or friend whom you trust to follow your wishes. Before executing a health care proxy, you should talk to the person that you intend to name as your agent about your wishes concerning medical decisions, especially life sustaining treatment.
  • What if I subsequently become able to make and communicate my own decisions?
    • If at any time you regain the ability to make your own decisions and express your wishes regarding medical treatment, your health care providers will follow your instructions rather than those of your agent.
  • What is a medical directive and should I have one?
    • A medical directive is a document that provides your agent with instructions on the type of medical care you would like to receive. If you wish, you may include a medical directive in your health care proxy. Whether a separate document or included in your health care proxy, a medical directive can be very helpful in providing guidance to your agent and to making sure that your wishes concerning medical treatment are carried out.
  • When does a health care proxy take effect?
    • A health care proxy takes effect only when you require medical treatment and are unable to make decisions or communicate your wishes concerning your treatment.
  • Who should have a copy of my health care proxy?
    • Your agent should have the original document. You should have a copy and your physician should keep a copy with your medical records.
  • How can I have a health care proxy?
    • Consult an attorney who is skilled and experienced in this area.

The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation. Please contact me at North Shore Elder Law & Estate Planning to learn more about health care proxies and advance medical directives.