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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Talk to Your Health Care Proxy

POSTED ON: March 24, 2020

An important part of creating an estate plan is choosing someone to act as a health care proxy for you. This person can legally make health care decisions for you if you can’t do so yourself.

Of course, choosing the person to act as your health care proxy is a big decision. There are “6 Characteristics to Look for in a Health Care Agent.” Once you’ve chosen your health care proxy, it’s essential that you talk to them openly and honestly so your proxy will be able to act confidently when making important decisions in regard to your health.

Here are some suggested ideas to discuss with your health care proxy:

  • Any allergies you have to anything, including food and medicine
  • Ongoing medical conditions
  • Previous surgeries (date and reason)
  • Current medications you take (when did you start the medication and why)
  • Medical treatments that you would prefer not to receive and why
  • Places where you’d prefer to receive medical treatment
  • Life-support treatments that you would or wouldn’t want
    -Your feelings about mechanical breathing (respirator), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), artificial nutrition and hydration, hospital intensive care, pain management, blood transfusions, and dialysis
    -The use of antibiotics if you developed a life-threatening infection
  • Surgeries that you would or wouldn’t like to receive
  • Your preference for staying at home, if possible, vs. being in a hospital/ hospice
  • Religious or spiritual wishes

You should also have an advance directive, also known as a “living will,” which will outline your wishes as to how your health care proxy should proceed in specific circumstances, such as how and when you wish to receive medical treatment in the event of a terminal illness (e.g., artificial nutrition and hydration, CPR, antibiotics). The advance directive works in conjunction with a health care proxy. If the advance directive doesn’t address a treatment or procedure that a doctor is considering, the proxy could make the decision based on what they believe the patient would want.

Planning ahead is crucial for the well-being, both emotionally and financially, of yourself and your family. A comprehensive estate plan should include both a health care proxy and an advance directive, and talking honestly with your health care proxy is the best way to make sure that they are prepared to make the decisions that you would want them to.