What Is A New York Healthcare Proxy?
When a person is not in a place to make their own healthcare decisions, the law allows them to designate a person to make those decisions instead. New York and all other U.S. states allow a person to name a healthcare proxy, and invest them with the power to make those difficult choices. However, it is important to keep in mind that if you do not name a healthcare proxy, New York law allows family members to be granted that authority. If this is not an optimal outcome for you, naming a healthcare proxy should be an important priority.
Can Be Anyone
In New York, a healthcare proxy can (with rare exceptions) be any competent person over the age of 18, and does not have to be an immediate family member. They must, by law, follow your instructions – if you leave any – and must act in accordance with your morals and religious beliefs. A proxy is there to act in your stead, rather than to inject their own opinions or beliefs into the situation, so it is crucial to choose a person in your life you trust to do this. In turn, hospitals and other healthcare providers are required to obey their wishes.
New York’s Health Care Proxy Law explicitly states that anyone who is competent can name their own healthcare proxy, which will vest the power in them to make “any and all health care decisions on the principal’s behalf that the principal could make,” barring any specific limitations set out in the document naming the person as proxy. This is not the same as a living will; a living will sets out a person’s wishes, while a healthcare proxy document names a person to act on them.
Ensure Your Wishes Are Honored
While having a healthcare proxy is always a good idea, many people do not name one, either because they do not anticipate medical problems, or because they believe that their spouse or other relation will be automatically nominated. The New York legislature anticipated this type of issue, and passed what is known as the Family Health Care Decisions Act, granting the authority to a “family member or close friend” to make healthcare decisions on a person’s behalf if that person left no instructions and cannot make decisions themselves.
For some people, this is an acceptable situation – but for some, it is not. A person may have limited or no contact with their blood family, but the family may be able to influence their healthcare treatment if no friends are close to hand. It is far better to simply name a healthcare proxy, even if you do not believe yourself in need of one – who knows what may occur down the line.
Contact A Healthcare Proxy Attorney
No one wants to think of their own incapacity, regardless of age or health status. However, it is necessary to do so, and a Westchester County elder care attorney from Meyer & Spencer, PC can help ensure the right documents are in place to grant you peace of mind. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.