A Healthcare Proxy is a document that names someone you trust to make medical decisions for you. In the instance you are not able to accept or refuse medical treatment, a proxy can do it for you. Your healthcare proxy could consent to treatment or surgery if you are unconscious. A Healthcare Proxy can also refuse extraordinary means of life support.
Anyone who is over 18 should have a health care proxy. Only parents of minor children have authority to make decisions on behalf of their children. But for adults, if they don’t appoint a proxy, the options are not good. There are many decisions to be made in the event of an emergency. Make sure your specific wishes are known.
Don’t leave your family plans in someone else’s hands
As I always say in my estate planning workshops, you do not want to force your family or loved ones to bring a guardianship proceeding. Anyone who has ever read the news stories about Karen Ann Quinlan or Terry Schiavo realizes the importance of a healthcareproxy. These unfortunate stories reveal the problem when an unexpected medical emergency happens. If you cannot tell the doctors what to do then who can? The loved ones in both the Quinlan and Schiavo cases had to resort to Court action. The Quinlan case lead to the development of estate planning documents like the healthcare proxy. But if you do not make a healthcare proxy, the lessons of these cases will not help you. While you are competent you can appoint someone else to make decisions for you. When might you need a healthcare proxy? You need a healthcare proxy after it is too late to make one – that is, when you cannot communicate your wishes about your health care.
Is a Healthcare Proxy Estate Planning?
Estate planning is all about planning for the unexpected. Once you create these legal documents, then you do not have to worry. A healthcare proxy may never be necessary, but having one gives you peace of mind. You will know that your family or loved ones will not have the added stress of a Court action if you do need emergency medical care and cannot speak for yourself.
Healthcare proxies are legal documents that can be a part of a complete estate plan. Soyka Bifulco Law firm are estate planning attorneys.