An estate plan is not just important for preparing for what happens once you pass away. It can also include potential tools, such as a healthcare proxy, that can protect your interests while you are still alive. But what exactly is a healthcare proxy, and how can it be used as part of your estate plan?
What is a Healthcare Proxy?
A healthcare proxy is a type of document known as an advance directive, which dictates how you may wish to be treated in the event that you are left incapacitated or otherwise unable to make important healthcare decisions. Specifically, it grants another person the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, including the ability to approve treatments or procedures, give informed consent, or even approve palliative care. This could be the result of progressive dementia, a major illness, or a severe injury.
How Does a Healthcare Proxy Work?
Basically, if you have a healthcare proxy in place, it will come into effect when it is determined that you are no longer able to make healthcare decisions for yourself. At that time, the individual named in your healthcare proxy will automatically be given the authority to assume control over your healthcare decisions. This means you can ensure your care will be in the hands of someone you trust.
What Happens if You Do Not Have a Healthcare Proxy?
Without a healthcare proxy in place, it is likely that your loved ones will need to seek a legal guardianship through the courts to be able to make major healthcare decisions for you. This can be a long and complicated process, and there is no guarantee that someone you know or trust will be appointed your guardian. This is because the ultimate decision lies with the courts about who becomes your guardian, meaning a complete stranger could theoretically be given control over your healthcare decisions.
Should You Get a Healthcare Proxy?
For most people, a healthcare proxy can be a critical part of their estate plan. However, to know what you may need for yourself and your loved ones, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling estate law matters. They can go over your estate plan with you, and ensure that your needs and interests are protected.
The Virdone Law Firm is here to assist Long Island families with all of their elder law, family law and estate law issues. We pride ourselves on providing unparalleled legal representation with a foundation in personalized client service. To learn more or schedule a consultation at our Westbury office, give us a call at (516) 570 - 3875, or visit our contact page.