Naming a health care proxy is an important part of the end-of-life planning process. A health care proxy is a trusted friend or family member who receives your permission to make health care decisions on your behalf if you can no longer do so.
These are the most common questions people have about establishing a legal health care proxy in New York.
What are the responsibilities of a health care proxy?
Your health care proxy agrees to follow your wishes when making decisions about medical and end-of-life care. You can give this person blanket authority to make these decisions or limited authority to make only specific decisions. If you become incapacitated, having a health care proxy in place protects your family members from the stress of having to guess what type of medical care you would want.
What provisions should I include for my health care proxy?
Depending on your wishes, you may want to include detailed information about:
- Use of artificial nutrition and hydration
- Types of desired treatments if you have a terminal illness
- Tissue and organ donation after death
- Continuation of life support if you are in a permanent coma
You can also state that your health care proxy can use his or her own judgment to make these choices. However, he or she cannot make decisions about hydration and nutrition unless your consent or refusal for these items expressly appears on your proxy form.
How do I establish a health care proxy?
New York has a standard form you can use to establish a health care proxy and document your wishes. Simply fill out the form, then you and your chosen proxy must sign it in the presence of two witnesses ages 18 or older. After completing the health care proxy, you should provide a copy to all your health care providers. They have a legal obligation to abide by your stated wishes and the decisions of your proxy.
A health care proxy cannot make financial decisions on your behalf. However, you can establish a power of attorney to do so.