Can a Health Care Proxy Override the Patient’s Will?

Establishing an advance directive, such as a living will or healthcare proxy, is an important step for anyone aged 18 or over. This process enables people to appoint someone they trust who will make medical decisions on their behalf if they become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. As part of your healthcare agent designation, it is vital to communicate any desired care choices with them so they are carried out according to your wishes and preferences. This ensures that decisions taken are carried out according to what matters most for you. Under New York State health care proxy laws, the agent you select as your proxy must have authority to make decisions about your treatment. As part of a proactive plan for protecting yourself, consider nominating an alternate or successor agent in case your first choice cannot fulfill their role effectively for some reason.

On this form, you can also provide special instructions to your agent, such as whether or not you want to be an organ or tissue donor and any specific treatments or procedures that you do not wish to undergo. It is crucial that you clearly and precisely state what powers are granted to them so they do not make decisions that differ from those you would make themselves.

When creating a healthcare proxy, it is also possible to specify when it should take effect – for instance when you no longer can make decisions for yourself, or once two doctors confirm this loss of capacity. You may wish for it to continue until your death, or possibly end at some date or upon the occurrence of certain conditions.

In the event that you cannot make medical decisions yourself, having a healthcare proxy in place can overrule what your loved ones may wish for you, provided it aligns with your wishes and beliefs. Without such an arrangement in place, loved ones could have to go through court procedures in order to act on your behalf – delaying essential medical treatment in the process.

Review your healthcare proxy and advance directive documents regularly to keep them accurate and up-to-date. When adding new family members or changing goals and wishes, or when new circumstances arise that alter these, make sure your healthcare agent is informed. Give a copy to your doctor, hospital and any close relatives or friends that might need it in an emergency as well as keep one copy handy in your wallet or purse with other important papers – each medical facility will request to see them upon admission so it’s advisable to have these ready.

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