New York Healthcare Proxy and Medical Directives

Assisting New Yorkers with Establishing a Healthcare Proxy or Medical Directive for the Future

Pursuant to the New York Health Care Proxy Law, individuals are permitted to appoint someone whom they trust to make healthcare decision on their behalf, in the event they become incapacitated or unable to make those decisions on their own. An appointee—otherwise known as a healthcare agent—may include a close personal friend or a family member. The main reason for appointing a healthcare agent is to make sure that doctors and other healthcare providers abide by your wishes at the end of your life, and as your health conditions change over time.

You can also give your healthcare agent as much or as little authority as you want to give him or her. For example, you may allow your agent to make every healthcare decision on your behalf at a certain time, or you can limit that authority as much as you wish.

You can use healthcare proxies and medical directives to make your wishes clear in the event you later become incapacitated. The experienced New York lawyers at Goldfarb, Abrandt, Salzman & Kutzin LLP can assist you with setting up a clear, concise, and unambiguous healthcare proxy that makes all of your wishes clear for future healthcare providers.

Reasons for Choosing a Healthcare Agent

There are many reasons for you to choose a healthcare agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. One of the most basic reasons to choose a healthcare agent is that without one, the doctor or hospital may follow the default New York law and determine what happens to you and make medical decisions for you. Some of the benefits of choosing your own healthcare agent include the following:

  • Choosing a healthcare agent ensures that someone will make future medical decisions the way you would want them to
  • Choosing an individual whom you know well ensures that they will make the best possible decisions for you.
  • Choosing one individual to make medical decisions for you ensures that there will be no confusion or conflicts among other family members who would otherwise have to make the decisions on your behalf.

Who Can Serve as Your Healthcare Agent?

There are several requirements for serving as an individual’s healthcare agent. First of all, the healthcare agent must be at least 18 years old. Moreover, the person whom you appoint as your agent is not eligible to be a witness on a Health Care Proxy form.

You should keep in mind that you may appoint an alternate healthcare agent who can stand in the shoes of your first choice, in the event that individual is incapacitated when the time for decision making arises.

Process of Appointment

The process of appointing a healthcare agent has several steps. First of all, the individual making the appointment must be a competent adult who is at least 18 years old. In order to make the appointment, the individual must sign the Health Care Proxy form in the presence of two adult witnesses. The form does not require notarization, and the healthcare agent cannot serve as one of the witnesses.

Medical Decisions That an Agent Can Make

Once you are incapacitated, your healthcare agent will be eligible to make a variety of medical decisions on your behalf. Those medical decisions include:

  • Whether you should receive a particular type of medical treatment under the circumstances
  • Choosing which type of medical treatment is best under the circumstances
  • Deciding on one or more types of medical treatment that you definitely do not want under the circumstances

It is important to understand that a healthcare agent can only make decisions regarding hydration and nourishment (that is, via an intravenous line or a feeding tube) if they know your wishes. Moreover, a healthcare agent cannot make decisions on your behalf that are not healthcare related. This includes making financial decisions on your behalf.

When Can an Agent Begin Making Decisions?

A healthcare agent can begin making decisions at any point in time when a doctor determines that you do not have the capacity to make your own healthcare decisions. So long as you have the capacity to make your own healthcare decisions, you will be able to do so on your own.

Changing Your Mind About a Healthcare Proxy

It is okay to change your mind about a healthcare proxy, and it is fairly easy to change the individual whom you appointed as your agent. You can also change the limitations or instructions about your healthcare that you may have indicated on the Health Care Proxy Form. All you have to do in that situation is to complete a new Health Care Proxy Form that indicates the desired changes.

In addition, you can indicate on the form that the Health Care Proxy expires under certain circumstances or on a certain date. If you do not limit the terms of the Health Care Proxy, it will continue on indefinitely.

Talk to an Experienced New York Elder Law Lawyer to Discuss Health Care Proxy and Medical Directives Today

A healthcare proxy and medical directive can ensure that others comply with all of your medical wishes if the time comes that you are unable to make your own decisions. The skilled medical directives and healthcare proxy attorneys at Goldfarb, Abrandt, Salzman & Kutzin LLP can ensure that you sufficiently plan ahead in the event that someone may need to make decisions for you. Our lawyers can ensure this by crafting well-worded documents that are unambiguous and which make your medical wishes clear.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a knowledgeable New York proxy and medical directives lawyer, please call us at (212) 387-8400, or contact us online today.