What are some reasons for creating a health care directive?

| Jan 29, 2021 | Estate Planning

New York’s Health Care Proxy Law allows you to name an individual to act as your proxy if you become severely ill or incapacitated. By creating a health care directive, you may leave written instructions for your chosen agent to follow if you do not have the ability to communicate with a medical provider. 

Your health care directive enables your chosen agent to instruct your doctors regarding your preferred treatment. As noted by Business Insider, an unexpected medical emergency may otherwise lead to a court-appointed agent or a hospital employee making medical decisions on your behalf. 

Who may I appoint as my health care agent?

You may name any individual over the age of 18 to serve as your health care agent. Your directive may list a trusted friend, relative or adult child who understands your personal wishes. Your instructions may include details related to surgery, pain relief and end-of-life care. 

If family members hold conflicting beliefs about medical treatments, a health care directive serves as evidence of your personal wishes. Your agent may bypass the intentions of your relatives and communicate directly with a physician on your behalf and according to your written instructions. 

When may an agent begin communicating on my behalf?

You may communicate with your doctors while you have the ability to make your own decisions. A health care agent generally begins discussing treatment on your behalf if a physician provides proof of your incapacitation. 

A health care directive protects you if and when family members attempt to instruct your medical providers to perform treatments you would not have agreed to. If necessary, a court may uphold your written instructions and order your doctors to only provide your preferred medical services.