Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Health Care Proxies
One important component of a comprehensive estate plan is the execution of a Health Care Proxy. A Health Care Proxy is a document that allows the principal to appoint an agent with the legal authority to make medical and health care decisions on his or her behalf in the event of incapacity. The agent is legally empowered to authorize or withhold medical care in accordance with his or her best interpretation of the wishes of the principal. Because the agent must make such decisions and directions, a comprehensive Health Care Proxy will also include the principal's expression of wishes regarding types of medical care to be withheld or provided in the event of a terminal illness. Typically, the principal will be asked to express preferences regarding (a) do-not-resuscitate orders, (b) artificial respiration, (c) artificial nutrition, (d) major or minor surgery, (e) chemotherapy and other medications, and (f) a variety of other medical procedures. If you are embarking on the preparation of an estate plan, you would be well advised to consider who you would trust with making health care decisions on your behalf, and whether you would wish such medical procedures to be withheld or provided in the event you have a terminal condition and are unable to make such decisions on your own. A comprehensive Health Care Proxy can ensure that your wishes on this important subject will be carried out in accordance with your expressions.