Health care proxies – An overview

| Apr 6, 2020 | Firm News

Due to age, illness or injury, people may suffer conditions that leave them physically or mentally incapacitated. Having an estate plan that includes advance directives gives voice to the wishes of those who find themselves unable to make decisions or speak for themselves. 

Among other advance directive documents, people may choose to name a health care proxy in their estate plans. 

What is a health care proxy? 

According to the New York State Office of the Attorney General, a health care proxy is another person whom someone may name to act as his or her health care agent. In the event people cannot make medical choices for themselves, those named as their health care proxies may make medical treatment and care decisions on their behalf. In making such choices, health care proxies must adhere to the patients’ wishes, as well as act in their best interests and in accordance with their moral and religious beliefs. 

Who can serve as a health care proxy? 

When deciding whom to name as their health care proxies, people should choose someone they can trust. In order to serve as a health care agent in New York, the selected representatives must be at least 18-years-old and mentally competent. People may name family members, spouses or partners, close friends or even lawyers to serve in this role. 

Why name a health care proxy? 

According to the National Institute on Aging, not all medical situations are foreseeable. Having a health care proxy to make decisions on their behalf allows people to ensure their voices are heard in the event of such circumstances. People may name health care proxies in addition to or in lieu of establishing a living will. When choosing a health care proxy, people may share their values with those they have selected, allowing them to make even unexpected decisions in accordance with their preferences.