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When Do I Need a Healthcare Proxy?

A healthcare proxy doesn’t make decisions for you when you are up and walking around, feeling healthy. That would not make much sense at all. Instead, they are there to make crucial medical decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself. So if you are in a coma or otherwise incapacitated, having a healthcare proxy, sometimes referred to as a healthcare power of attorney, can help you ensure that your wishes are being respected.

What Decisions Can a Healthcare Proxy Make?

When someone has your healthcare power of attorney, they are the one who medical professionals turn to when it’s time to decide what kinds of treatment you receive. If there is some kind of decision to be made, like whether or not a doctor moves forward with a surgical procedure, your healthcare proxy gets the last word.

This is a little different than having a living will or advance directive. These are for when you have reached the end of your life. If you are unable to speak for yourself, then you can make rules about what kind of end-of-life treatment you prefer. A healthcare proxy is there in case you are only temporarily incapacitated. So you must prepare for both types of scenarios.

What If Family Members Disagree With the Healthcare Proxy?

If you never choose someone to have your healthcare power of attorney, your family might end up arguing over what to do if you are incapacitated. Your spouse may suggest one treatment, but your children disagree. This could result in a court battle that takes time, time that you might not have.

When you have a proxy, you have someone who you picked in advance and someone who you trust to make the decisions. If any loved ones disagree with them, there is not much they can do. So while naming a proxy cannot completely eliminate conflict, it could help you get the care that you need in a timely manner.

Can I Change My Proxy?

Yes, you can change your healthcare proxy if you want to. In fact, it is actually recommended that you do so in certain circumstances. A good example of this is when people get a divorce and had previously named their spouse as their proxy. It’s often a good idea to choose a new healthcare proxy after a big life event like that.

Schedule Your Consultation With Our Estate Planning Lawyers

If you have any questions about proxies or estate planning in general, we can help. Contact Herting Law, PLLC and schedule a consultation with our team today.

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