While tending to estate planning matters, you learn of a health care proxy. Is this vital for your estate?
Medicare Interactive explores the health care proxy. Determine whether to tend to this matter now or later.
What is a proxy?
Understand that a health care proxy is a document, not a person. On the document, you designate a person to serve as your agent or proxy to speak with your voice regarding medical decisions if you cannot. For instance, if you fall into a coma, you need someone you know and trust to make medical decisions for you and ensure that doctors honor your desires. Other names for the document include health care surrogate, durable medical power of attorney and appointment of a health care agent.
Do you have to have a terminal illness to have a proxy?
Health care proxies apply to more than terminal illness. As long as a doctor declares you incapacitated and unable to voice your medical desires, your designated agent may step in. When the document “activates,” your proxy may gain access to your medical information, such as your health care records. You may specify in your proxy document which permissions your agent has.
What information should you share with your proxy?
Before designating a proxy, discuss the role and all it entails with your candidate. This individual should know your choices regarding life-sustaining medical and palliative care and treatments for unresponsive patients. If you have specific views on death, dying and religion/spirituality, share those with your agent. Also, let your proxy in on your opinions on medical institutions, medical providers and caregivers.
Educate yourself on all areas of estate planning. Thorough knowledge lets you make sound decisions for your life and legacy.