Do You Have a Health Care Proxy?

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you (the principal) to appoint another person (the agent) to make health care decisions on your behalf. A Health Care Proxy only takes effect when you are unable to make health care decisions yourself, usually due to illness or incapacity. You can only name one person at a time to act as your agent on your Health Care Proxy. However, alternate agents can be named if your original agent is unable to act at the time a decision needs to be made.

When executing a Health Care Proxy, it is important to appoint an agent who will advocate on your behalf and carry out your health-care wishes. Make sure this person will be able to make the decisions that you would have made had you been able to, and not substitute his or her own judgment.

It is important to discuss your preferences regarding your health-care and medical treatment with your agent. Most importantly, be sure to discuss your desires regarding life-sustaining treatment, including artificial nutrition and hydration. Your Health Care Proxy Advance Directive must specify that your agent knows your wishes in order to make such decisions on your behalf.

Executing a Health Care Proxy Advance Directive offers you control over a situation in which you would otherwise be powerless. Discussing your wishes regarding end-of-life care with your agent will give your agent direction during a difficult time and the confidence of knowing that your wishes will be carried out. Do not delay in executing this important document and discussing your wishes with your agent.

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