Health Care Proxy: Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

There are few things in life that are as certain as death and taxes. Everyone knows that. Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what the future will bring with regard to one’s health. If you become sick and disabled, or even if you have an accident that leaves you incapacitated, you may not be able to communicate your wishes regarding day-to-day healthcare decisions or even end-of-life choices.

Just as we create estate plans for our eventual demise, we also need to plan ahead for the possibility that we will become sick and unable to make our own medical decisions.

Talk to a qualified elder care attorney about assigning a health care proxy to protect your rights if you are unable to speak for yourself. Also known as a healthcare power of attorney, you can assign responsibility for making your wishes known in the event you can’t do it for yourself.

A health care proxy would ensure that someone, of your choosing, will have the legal authority to communicate your wishes concerning medical treatment. Due to privacy policies, doctors will not speak with anyone but the patient or immediate next of kin. If you put a health care proxy in place, your named agent will be able to speak on your behalf and make sure your wishes are carried out.

This is important because often family members do not agree on health care decisions. For example, what if you don’t want extraordinary measures taken to sustain life but your child wants everything that can be done to be done for you? Your wishes will come first if you have assigned someone to enforce them.

Two things to note:

1. A health care proxy takes effect only when you require medical treatment and cannot speak for yourself. If and when you regain the ability to express your own wishes, the health care proxy will no longer be in effect and your word will be acted upon.

2. A health care proxy does not give someone authority to make financial decisions for you. You need a power of attorney for that.

Find out more about healthcare proxies and powers of attorney by speaking with a knowledgeable lawyer from Bratton Scott. Call our office today for a consultation.