A Valid Health Care Proxy Is Critical
One of the most critical pieces of a comprehensive estate plan is a valid health care proxy. At Weinstein & Randisi, a Rochester, New York, estate planning law firm, our lawyers recommend that everyone over the age of 18 have one at all times.
A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone that you trust as an agent, who can make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.
When an agent named in a health care proxy makes a decision on your behalf, doctors and other medical professionals are required to treat that decision as if you made it. However, that power would not begin until a doctor decided that you were unable to make your own decisions.
Why Do I Need A Health Care Proxy?
Life is full of the unexpected. When you are young and healthy it can seem like a health care proxy won’t be relevant for years — maybe even decades. While we hope that you won’t need one, there are a wide variety of reasons why you might.
For example, if you are a college student and you are hurt while at school — from a sports accident, a car accident or any other cause — you need someone who can make your decisions on your behalf, because you are now an adult. You might want a parent, a sibling, a best friend or a significant other to have the final say on the treatment you receive.
Another time that health care proxies are often needed is when a woman is pregnant. There are many things that can happen during a pregnancy, which may leave you unconscious and unable to voice your opinion on treatment. It is important that you have a proxy who can make the hard choices — such as deciding between alternatives that put your life at risk, or your child’s.
A health care proxy does not have to give another person total control. You can place limitations on a health care proxy — or make your wishes known through a living will — so that you are sure that your wishes are respected.