If you want to make sure your family is taken care of if you get sick, you need to fill out a healthcare proxy form. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
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When you hear the term “health care proxy,” you may think it has something to do with insurance. But a health care proxy is actually a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
Most people name a spouse or adult child as their health care proxy. But you can name anyone you trust — as long as that person is over 18 and able to make clearheaded decisions. You should also choose someone who lives close to you, so they can be easily available in an emergency.
Health care proxies are sometimes also called “durable powers of attorney for health care” or “advance directives.” No matter what they’re called, they all serve the same purpose: to give someone else the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you can’t make them yourself.
You may want to name a health care proxy if you have a chronic illness or condition that could incapacitate you, if you are pregnant and want someone else to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf in case of an emergency, or if you simply want to be prepared in case anything happens to you.
In most states, you can fill out a health care proxy form online or at your local hospital. You’ll need to designate an alternate health care proxy in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve. You should also keep a copy of your health care proxy form in a safe place, like a fireproof safe or locked box, and give copies to your designated health care proxy, alternate health care proxy, and any other close family members or friends who might need them in an emergency.
What is a Health Care Proxy?
When you fill out a health care proxy form, you’re appoint someone to make decisions about your health care if you can’t make them yourself. The person you appoint is called your “proxy.”
A health care proxy is different than a durable power of attorney for health care. A durable power of attorney for health care lets your appointee make routine decisions about your health care, like whether to consent to surgery. A health care proxy only goes into effect if you’re incapacitated and unable to communicate your own treatment preferences.
Most states have laws that allow adults to appoint someone else to make medical decisions on their behalf. If you want to appoint a health care proxy, check the laws in your state.
You can revoke or change your health care proxy at any time as long as you’re mentally competent. You don’t need witnesses or to notify anyone in advance that you’ve revoked it.
Why You Might Need a Health Care Proxy
Most people never think about what would happen if they were in an accident or suddenly became ill and couldn’t make their own health care decisions. But it happens more often than you might think. If you are unable to speak for yourself, whether due to an accident, a sudden illness, or even just anesthesia during a routine surgery, someone will have to make decisions about your care.
That’s where a health care proxy comes in. A health care proxy is someone you designate in advance to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
A health care proxy can be anyone over the age of 18 whom you trust to make decisions in your best interests, including your spouse, partner, child, sibling, parent, or friend. You can also name more than one person as your proxy. You should select someone who lives close by and is available on short notice, in case they need to step in and make a decision quickly.
It’s important to have a discussion with the person (or people) you have named as your proxy ahead of time about the types of medical treatments you would or would not want in different situations. This will help them make the best possible decisions on your behalf if they ever need to do so.
You can name a health care proxy by filling out a form called a “health care proxy affidavit” and signing it in front of two witnesses who are not related to you or named as yourproxy. The form is usually available from your state’s department of health or from hospitals and nursing homes. Once you have filled out and signed the form, give copies to your Proxy, your doctor, and anyone else who might need them. You should also keep a copy for yourself
Who Can Be Your Health Care Proxy?
Your health care proxy is the person you choose to make decisions about your health care if you can’t make them yourself.
You can name anyone 18 or older as your proxy. You can name more than one person, but we recommend you name a primary and a backup. You should choose someone you trust to follow your wishes and make decisions the way you would want them made.
You don’t have to be sick to appoint a health care proxy. In fact, it’s a good idea to appoint one before you need one. If you have questions about how to choose a health care proxy or what powers your proxy will have, talk to a lawyer, your doctor, or another health care professional.
What if You Don’t Have a Health Care Proxy?
If you don’t have a health care proxy, you may want to consider appointing one. A health care proxy is someone you designate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to health care proxies. The best way to choose a health care proxy is to think about someone you trust implicitly and who knows you well. This person should be willing and able to make tough decisions on your behalf, and they should be comfortable communicating with your medical team.
Once you have chosen a health care proxy, you will need to complete a few steps to make the arrangement official. First, you will need to provide your proxy with a signed and dated letter that appoints them as your health care proxy. You should also share any relevant medical information with your proxy, including your preferences for treatment and end-of-life care. Finally, be sure to have a conversation with your proxy about your wishes and expectations for their role.
How to Choose a Health Care Proxy
A “health care proxy” is someone you name to make decisions about your health care if you can’t communicate your wishes yourself.
You may hear a health care proxy called by other names, such as “agent,” “surrogate,” or “attorney-in-fact for health care.” No matter what it’s called, a health care proxy is someone you designate ahead of time, in writing, to make sure your health care wishes are carried out if you become too sick to communicate them.
You don’t need a lawyer to prepare a health care proxy. You can appoint anyone you want as your proxy, as long as that person is 18 years old or older and mentally competent. You can even name more than one person, and choose whether or not they can act together or independently.
You may want to discuss your wishes with the person you’ve chosen before you appoint him or her as your proxy. That way, he or she will know what you would want and be more likely to honor your wishes.
How to Appoint a Health Care Proxy
When you appoint a health care proxy, you designate an individual to make decisions about your health care in the event that you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself. You may appoint anyone you wish as your proxy, as long as that person is over the age of 18 and is willing to take on this responsibility. In some states, married individuals may not appoint their spouse as proxy unless they have stated otherwise in writing.
You do not need to have a lawyer to prepare a health care proxy, but it must be signed and dated by you in the presence of two witnesses who are also over the age of 18. In some states, notarization is also required. Once complete, you should give copies of the signed and dated proxy to your proxy, your doctor(s), and any other individuals who might be involved in your health care, such as family members or close friends. You should also keep a copy for yourself.
It is important to note that a health care proxy only comes into effect if you are unable to communicate your own health care decisions. As long as you are able to express your wishes, your proxy will not be involved in decision-making. You can revoke or change your health care proxy at any time and for any reason, as long as you are able to communicate this yourself. If you have any questions or concerns about appointing a health care proxy, please consult with an attorney or medical professional.
What Powers Does a Health Care Proxy Have?
As the health care agent, you will have the authority to make all health care decisions for the patient if he or she becomes incapacitated. This includes decisions about medical treatment, hospitalization, and any other issues related to the patient’s health care.
What if You Change Your Mind About Your Health Care Proxy?
If you change your mind about who you want to be your health care proxy, you can revoke (cancel) the first health care proxy and appoint a new one. You do not need to have a new form. You can tell your agent that you have changed your mind in any way that lets him or her know that you no longer want that person to serve as your agent. For example, you can:
-write a letter or note to the person saying that you are revoking the health care proxy;
-tell the person verbally that you are revoking the proxy; or
-destroy the health care proxy form.
As you can see, a healthcare proxy is an important legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. It is important to choose someone you trust and who you feel comfortable making decisions for you. This person should be familiar with your wishes and be able to advocate for them in the event that you are unable to do so.