Why should I choose a health care agent?
If you become unable, even temporarily, to make health care decisions, someone else must decide for you. Health care providers often look to family members for guidance. Family members may express what they think your wishes are related to a particular treatment. Appointing an agent lets you control your medical treatment by:
Who can be a health care agent?
Anyone 18 years of age or older can be a health care agent. The person you are appointing as your agent or your alternate agent cannot sign as a witness on your Health Care Proxy form.
How do I appoint a health care agent?
All competent adults, 18 years of age or older, can appoint a health care agent by signing a form called a Health Care Proxy. You don’t need a lawyer or a notary, just two adult witnesses. Your agent cannot sign as a witness. If you would like to execute your own Health Care Proxy you may use the NY Dept of Health publication 1430.
When would my health care agent begin to make health care decisions for me?
Your health care agent would begin to make health care decisions after your doctor decides that you are not able to make your own health care decisions. As long as you are able to make health care decisions for yourself, you will have the right to do so.
What decisions can my health care agent make?
Unless you limit your health care agent’s authority, your agent will be able to make any health care decision that you could have made if you were able to decide for yourself. Your agent can agree that you should receive treatment, choose among different treatments and decide that treatments should not be provided, in accordance with your wishes and interests. However, your agent can only make decisions about artificial nutrition and hydration (nourishment and water provided by feeding tube or intravenous line) if he or she knows your wishes from what you have said or what you have written. The Health Care Proxy form does not give your agent the power to make non-health care decisions for you, such as financial decisions.
Why do I need to appoint a health care agent if I’m young and healthy?
Appointing a health care agent is a good idea even though you are not elderly or terminally ill. A health care agent can act on your behalf if you become even temporarily unable to make your own health care decisions (such as might occur if you are under general anesthesia or have become comatose because of an accident). When you again become able to make your own health care decisions, your health care agent will no longer be authorized to act.
How will my health care agent make decisions?
Your agent must follow your wishes, as well as your moral and religious beliefs. You may write instructions on your Health Care Proxy form or simply discuss them with your agent.
How will my health care agent know my wishes?
Having an open and frank discussion about your wishes with your health care agent will put him or her in a better position to serve your interests. If your agent does not know your wishes or beliefs, your agent is legally required to act in your best interest. Because this is a major responsibility for the person you appoint as your health care
FAQ courtesy of "Health Care Proxy: Appointing you Health Care Agent in New York" NYS Dept of Health publication 1430.