As you start planning for your end-of-life care or for emergencies that may arise, something you’ll want to add to your estate plan is a health care proxy. A health care proxy is a document that gives you the ability to appoint another person to make decisions about your medical care. This person won’t have access to your finances like a power of attorney would, but they will be able to make decisions about end-of-life care or emergency care when you cannot.
For anyone who is over 18 years of age, it’s a good idea to set up a health care proxy. If you’re married, your spouse may be considered your agent, but if you’d like to appoint someone else, then you need to do so in your health care proxy.
What happens if you don’t have a health care proxy?
If you don’t have a health care proxy and are unable to make medical decisions yourself, a few things could happen. First, if you’re married, your spouse may make those decisions for you. Second, if you’re not married, then doctors, a hospital, assisted-living staff members or a medical center may make decisions for you.
The importance of the health care proxy is to make sure you have a say in your treatment, even if you can’t speak up for yourself. You should choose an agent who understands what your wishes would be if you were badly injured or facing the end of your life so that they would make the decisions that are in your best interests.
Your attorney can help you set up a health care proxy with one or more people named to make decisions on your behalf, so you can rest easy knowing you’ll be cared for in an emergency.