What is Health Care Proxy?

An advanced health care proxy, also known as a medical power of attorney (POA), allows you to designate someone as the one making decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and cannot communicate your preferences directly. Your health care proxy will have access to your medical records and be able to talk with doctors regarding tests or procedures you might need; you can include specific instructions in it as well. It could be someone such as your spouse/partner, close family member or friend. Before making this choice it’s essential that they are comfortable acting this role; discuss any concerns with them beforehand so everyone involved is on board. It should also outline goals/wishes regarding treatment goals/wishes regarding treatment as well as why they were selected as this capacity before selecting someone as health care proxy.

When does my health care proxy take effect?

State laws govern when and how a health care proxy comes into force. In most instances, however, when your physician certifies that you’re incapacitated – for instance being unconscious or not being aware – or receiving life-sustaining treatments for terminal illness; your proxy usually becomes effective at that point.

However, a health care proxy can also be used to authorize someone else to make decisions for you before becoming incapacitated. For example, your agent could use it to discuss treatment options with your doctor, select hospitals for you to stay at and consent to life-saving medical procedures on your behalf. Your agent could even decide whether or not organs should be donated after death.

Your health care proxy allows you to limit the powers that an agent holds over you; however, it is essential that you consider all possible situations and goals for treatment before making your decisions. You may add restrictions that prevent an agent from making decisions you don’t agree with and also have a backup agent ready in case their primary choice cannot act on your behalf.

An effective health care proxy is one of the best ways to ensure that your medical treatment preferences are followed if you can’t communicate them directly. Without a health care proxy, loved ones would need court approval in order to provide necessary medical treatments on your behalf, which could take considerable time and delay meeting immediate needs. If you prefer, completing a living will that includes end-of-life treatment instructions is also an option. Consulting with an attorney to choose which document best fits your situation is recommended. For more information about creating healthcare proxy, speak to an elder law attorney near your location. Your attorney will guide you through the process of appointing someone as your agent and creating other legal documents designed to protect your rights in advance, giving you peace of mind knowing your plans are set should something arise that requires assistance.

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