Health Care Proxies

What is a health care proxy?

When you execute a health care proxy you (the principal) give another (your agent) the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes.

Who should be my agent?

It should be a family member or friend who you trust to carry out your wishes. You should make sure to discuss your wishes with the person you choose so that both of you are comfortable regarding the decisions that will be made, particularly life sustaining measures.

Why should I have a health care proxy?

If you become incapacitated it is important to have someone with the legal authority to communicate your wishes to medical personnel. This is particularly true if you and your family disagree about your treatment. Having a health care proxy in place will make sure that your wishes are carried out.

What is a “medical directive” or “living will”?

A medical directive gives your agent direction on the care you wish to receive and includes specific instructions regarding either beginning or ending life sustaining treatment. It can also be a broadly worded statement giving general authority for all medical decisions.

When does it take effect?

It only takes effect when you need medical treatment and you are unable to communicate your wishes for regarding this treatment.

Who should have a copy?

Your agent should have an original, you and your physician should have a copy to be kept with your medical records.

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