When it comes to your health care decisions, the person whose opinion matters the most is you. Medical decisions will directly affect your life, so it’s important to solidify what decisions are best for you. But what happens if you’re incapacitated somehow and cannot make key decisions regarding your health? Thankfully, New York provides a potential remedy for these situations by letting you designate a health care proxy ahead of time who can make important medical decisions for you. Keep reading for more information about who can serve as health care proxies in New York.
What Is a Health Care Proxy?
A health care proxy (also known as a health care agent) is someone who you have appointed to make important medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make the decisions yourself. If you become incapacitated, your health care proxy can stand in for you and make sure your wishes are carried out.
New York’s Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA) establishes decision-making procedures for individuals who have not appointed a valid health care proxy. The FHCDA establishes a priority list of individuals who may act as a proxy for the incapacitated individual. The individual appointed under the FHCDA may or may not be the person whom you wish to make such important life and death decisions on your behalf, especially when you’re at most vulnerable.
Alternatively, you may designate a health care proxy before you become incapacitated if you want to ensure that a specific individual makes medical decisions on your behalf. One of our estate planning lawyers from Chaves Perlowitz Luftig, LLP can draft a health care proxy form in NY for these purposes. You and your health care proxy should keep copies of these documents in a safe, easily accessible place in case an emergency arises and your loved ones need access to them.
Why Do I Need a Health Care Proxy in NY?
The purpose of a health care proxy is to be your advocate if you have become incapacitated and can’t make your wishes clear regarding certain kinds of medical treatment. You can specify your wishes in your living will, but this document is more specific to end-of-life treatment, rather than the treatment that might be contemplated if you were injured in a car accident, for example. Having someone designated to speak for you gives you another layer of protection. Having an NYS health care proxy appointed to make health care decisions for you can also prevent emotional family arguments because you’ll have someone who can voice your wishes. In some instances, having a health care proxy in place may help prevent expensive and contentious legal battles.
Who Can Serve as a Health Care Proxy?
New York law says anyone over the age of 18 can serve as a health care proxy. Only one health care agent may act at a time, although you are able to nominate a successor agent in the event your first agent is unable to act. Your health care proxy does not necessarily need to be a family member. Although, many people choose family members to be their proxy. You could also choose a friend, religious leader, attorney, or another party to serve as your proxy.
The main thing is to choose someone you trust. Communicate your health care wishes to them as clearly as possible. Generally, if you appoint your spouse as your health care proxy, this appointment will become invalidated if you divorce.
Contact our Health Care Proxy Lawyer in Manhattan, NY Today!
Choosing a health care proxy is an important element of estate planning, and you want to make sure your documents are drafted in a way that properly communicates your wishes. For more information on health care proxies in New York, contact Chaves Perlowitz Luftig, LLP today for a free initial consultation.
Chaves Perlowitz Luftig LLP is one of the most highly regarded real estate and estate planning firms in New York City. Our team of top-rated real estate attorneys and estate planning lawyers have extensive knowledge, resources, and connections to help you achieve your goals and plan for the future.