Many documents including health care proxy may now need to be in place before medical procedures, according to the Kirkland Reporter in “Take control of health care decisions in 2019 | Coming of Age…Again.”
Someone, whether a parent, spouse, friend or colleague, needs to be able to have the legal power to make decisions on your behalf, when you cannot. You need a health care proxy (or other health care directive depending upon the state you live in; these laws vary by state).
The health care proxy is used to tell doctors and medical caregivers of your choices about medical interventions that you would or would not want to be used, in the unexpected event that you become seriously or critically injured, terminally ill or unable to communicate with those around you.
If you don’t have this document, the decisions will be made by select members of your family with health care professionals. If you don’t want certain things to happen, like being intubated or put on a feeding tube, but they feel strongly that they want to keep you alive, your wishes may not be followed.
A Health Care Proxy can be created when working with an estate planning attorney to create an overall estate plan, which includes your will and any necessary trusts. These documents are too important to try to do on your own. There are major implications. What if they are not executed properly?
The person who is your health care agent has the authority to stop medical treatment on your behalf, or to refuse it. They can hire or fire any medical professional working on your care, and they can determine which medical facility should treat you. They can visit you, regardless of any visitation restrictions, and review your medical records. In some states, a durable Power of Attorney for health care gives this person the right to make decisions that are not necessarily covered in your health care directive.
Note that you can revoke your health care Power of Attorney document at any time, with a written notice to your agent.
These are complicated matters that deserve thoughtful consideration. The person you name will have tremendous responsibility — you are putting your life into their hands. Make sure the person you select is willing to take this responsibility on, and have a secondary person in mind, just in case.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your specific circumstances and may include a Health Care Proxy.
Reference: Kirkland Reporter (Feb. 20, 2019) “Take control of health care decisions in 2019 | Coming of Age…Again”