Most people know that having a will is an important aspect of estate planning. However, not as many people are aware of the healthcare proxy.
This document outlines your medical care wishes in the event that you are unable to physically or mentally make those decisions. It also names an agent who will act on your behalf.
The role of the agent
According to the New York State Department of Health, one of the main aspects of a healthcare proxy is to choose a healthcare agent. The role of this individual comes into effect only when a doctor deems you to be in an incapacitated state, such as if you:
- Are in a coma
- Have a form of dementia
- Are in a vegetative state
- Have an illness or injury that prevents you from communicating
- Are terminally ill
In the proxy, you can give your agent the power to make all medically related decisions, or you can list specific decisions you want him or her to make. It is the agent’s job to make sure the medical team follows your wishes.
Medical decisions to consider
To be as clear as possible, the New York Senate states that you should include a list of all medical treatments that you would want or that you refuse. Some examples include CPR, artificial respiration, electric shock therapy, artificial nutrition, blood transfusions, dialysis, surgical procedures and certain medications.
Even if you list all your wishes in the healthcare proxy, you should discuss them with your agent. If you are more open about your wishes, values and religious beliefs, your agent will have a better idea of what decisions you would want him or her to make in the event something comes up that you did not address in the proxy.