If you are involved in an accident or have an illness that impacts your ability to make medical decisions yourself, you will want to have a health care proxy and living will. The health care proxy document is particularly important because it allows another individual to make medical decisions on your behalf.
New York’s Health Care Proxy Law lets you appoint someone to be your agent and make health care decisions for you when you cannot. This person might be a friend, family member or other trusted party.
Why do you need a health care proxy?
It’s important to have a health care proxy because your agent will make sure that health care providers know your wishes and follow them.
If your condition changes, your agent will have the power to address medical professionals and discuss how your wishes apply to a new scenario. In the case that you haven’t addressed a particular situation in your living will, the agent can make decisions on your behalf.
The nice thing about a health care proxy document is that you have the ability to give an agent as much or as little power as possible. You might state that they can only make certain decisions, such as decisions about surgical options, but not about end-of-life care, as an example. The agent will receive instructions, and they do need to follow those instructions.
Remember, you can choose anyone who is 18 or older to be your health care agent. You may also select an alternate agent if this person isn’t available, which is something to consider while working on your estate plan.