What is Advance Directive and Reasons to Make a Health Care Directive

what is advance directive

New York’s Health Care Proxy Law allows you to name an individual to act as your health care proxy if you become severely ill or incapacitated as part of incapacity planning. By creating an advance directive or health care directive, you may leave written instructions for your chosen power of attorney agent to follow if you cannot communicate with a medical provider. But what is advance directive?

Your health care directive enables your chosen agent to instruct your doctors regarding your preferred treatment. 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 in My Advance Directive

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 surgery, pain relief, and end-of-life care details

If family members hold conflicting beliefs about medical treatments, an advance directive is 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 can 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 only to provide your preferred medical services. 

Having an advance directive is one of the many benefits of estate planning. One of the biggest estate planning mistakes we see is choosing not to have one.

Our Albany estate lawyers can help you create your health care directive.


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