How to Create a Health Care Proxy

While we wish we were immortal, the fact is that every person on earth eventually ends his or her life. During the later stages of living, aging Americans often run into health complications. Some people have mental degeneration, which can lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Others grow week and have heart complications or other organ malfunctions. Some people are blessed to live a full and happy life until they peacefully die in bed, but for most Americans, hospitalization and incapacitation may be in the future. With the advent of strong pain relievers, doctors are able to eliminate a person’s discomfort in later years. Yet the sacrifice for comfort is a diminished mental capacity, and men and women that rely on strong drugs often can’t make decisions because of their cognitive impairment.

With this possibility in your future, it is wise to think ahead and create a health care proxy. This is a document that relinquishes the right to make your medical decisions to someone that you can trust. Your health care provider will follow your instructions and chose what you would have preferred if you are not able to communicate these desires on your own. A health care agent is essential when it comes to choosing between surgery or medication, and life support or no life support. You will want to appoint someone that you trust fully to take on this responsibility. Most parents will appoint a beloved child as their health care proxy, or potentially a spouse. In order to create a health care proxy, you will need to fill out a state form. Normally, these forms ask for the name, address, and telephone number of the person that you are selecting to act as your agent.

You will then want to appoint an alternate agent, in case your current agent passes away or becomes unavailable. Provide the needed information for your back-up agent as well. If you choose, you can set an expiration date on your proxy. If you don’t add a date, then the proxy will be in effect until your passing. If you have special instructions for your agent, then you will want to write them out. You have the right to limit your agent’s authority where you see fit to do so. If you choose to just give your agent broad authority, you will write this on your form, so that doctors are sure that your agent is acting in your best interests. You can also write specific requests. For example, you can express that you do not life support should you fall into a vegetative state, or explain that if you have brain damage you do not want therapeutic or surgical procedures.

Most proxies address issues like abortion, sterilization, dialysis, antipsychotic medication, artificial respiration, antibiotics, and transplantation month others. You will want to sign and date your Health Care Proxy form once it is finished, and write any specifics about organ donation. Two witnesses that are 18 or older must sign your proxy form and the person who is your agent doesn’t count as a witness. Once your Health Care Proxy has been signed and filed, doctors and nurses will have a legal obligation to listen to your agent should you become incapacitated. Your agent does not have the right to override your wishes, and is responsible to care for you according to your desires. You can also set aside part of your estate to cover your medical bills in the future. Talk to a probate attorney today to start creating a legal, official proxy that will protect you in the future!