Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy, also written as health care proxy, is a means to ensure that––in the event you become incapacitated––someone you trust carries out your wishes regarding medical treatment. This document is a great comforting tool that you can use, knowing someone you trust will make the right medical decisions on your behalf.

At Guercio & Guercio, LLP, our estate planning attorneys will help you draft a healthcare proxy document as part of your estate plan. We aim to create a health care proxy that reflects your beliefs regarding health, illness, and death and incorporates any pertinent religious practices or medical treatment preferences, especially those related to life-sustaining care or comfort care. Contact our healthcare proxy attorney today either at (516) 694-3000 to schedule a consultation to learn more about the benefits this document can provide.

Healthcare Proxies 

A healthcare proxy is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person of your choosing to act as your healthcare agent and make healthcare decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. Many people choose their partner or spouse, adult child, or sibling to act as their healthcare proxy. Whoever you choose, make sure it is someone that is able to make important decisions swiftly in emergency situations. 

A healthcare proxy is only effective when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself, and this has been verified by a physician. You always have the ability to change or revoke your healthcare proxy as long as you are competent. 

Other names for a healthcare proxy, depending on the jurisdiction you reside in, include health care surrogate and medical power of attorney (POA).

How Does a Healthcare Proxy Differ from a Living Will?

A Living Will is a document that allows you to specify what your wishes are regarding end-of-life care and life-prolonging procedures. It is not addressed to anyone in particular but makes your medical care wishes clear to your family, friends, and medical personnel. This differs from a healthcare proxy in that the proxy is actually appointing a person to make your healthcare decisions on your behalf. A healthcare proxy is extremely helpful as it allows the person you appoint to make decisions for situations that were not anticipated and addressed beforehand (like in a Living Will).

There is a document known as an Advance Directive available in some jurisdictions – it combines properties of the Living Will and the healthcare proxy.  

Why Have a Healthcare Proxy?

Having an appointed healthcare proxy can not only bring peace of mind in knowing you have someone looking out for your interests even when you are unable to do so, it can also prevent strife and unnecessary delay in care. For example, family members often disagree on what type of medical care a loved one should receive, and valuable time is spent arguing. By appointing a specific person to make your healthcare decisions, you are able to avoid this.

Without a healthcare proxy, medical establishments will look to state law to determine who can make medical decisions on your behalf. With that said, you especially want a healthcare proxy when any of the following situations are present:

  • You have been diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness
  • You have reached an age where illnesses are more prevalent
  • You are in the process of drafting or updating a Will or other advance directive documents

But again, it's important to stress that you do not (and should not) wait until the last minute to create a healthcare proxy because we never know with certainty when something might happen, like a serious car accident.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today

Every person's situation is unique, and what you need in a health care plan will differ from anyone else. Because of this, it is in your best interest to meet with an estate planning attorney. They will be able to confer with you, learn the details of your specific situation, and advise you on the best way to proceed to protect yourself and those you love. An estate planning lawyer in your state will know the laws, regulations, and estate planning tools that apply in your jurisdiction and can give you specific guidance. 

At Guercio & Guercio, LLP, our healthcare proxy lawyer in New York will help you draft or update a healthcare proxy to make sure that your interests and beliefs are adequately addressed. Contact us today to schedule a consultation either by calling us directly at (516) 694-3000.