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When does a health care proxy become effective?

One of the best ways to prepare for the unexpected is to have a trusted friend or family member act as a health care proxy. It is not mandatory by law to name a health care proxy, but doing so might be helpful in case of a serious accident or sickness. If and when the time comes that you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself, your health care proxy should go into effect.

How much authority does a health care proxy have?

Every competent individual has the right to make decisions on the medical treatment they receive. Your health care proxy document can allow you to restrict the amount of legal authority your proxy has.

For example, you can indicate what decisions your proxy can make as well as those you want to leave to your doctor. If you want to make sure the proxy consults with loved ones before acting, you may write that as a condition as well.

And before your health care proxy can make decisions on your behalf, a physician has to verify your condition and declare incapacity. Your health care proxy document could also outline the circumstances under which your proxy will take effect.

Once in effect, your proxy can act based on the instructions you have set. They may access your health records, approve or decline specific treatments, or request other types of care. However, a doctor could refuse to cooperate if they have reason to believe that some of the choices your proxy makes do not reflect your moral or religious beliefs.

Can you revoke a health care proxy?

Plans and relationships are subject to change, so you can feel free to make any necessary changes to your health care proxy document.

Disputes among family members about the sort of care a loved one should get are common in life-or-death situations. You may prevent this by appointing a health care proxy, someone you know and trust to carry out your directives. You owe it to yourself to settle for nothing less than the best when it comes to your health.