The Dangers of Generic Healthcare Proxy Forms

healthcare formsYou may have an estate plan, but what thought have you put into what you would do if you became sick and unable to make decisions on your own? While there are plenty of medical miracles out there, none of them will protect you when you become incapacitated. The only way to ensure that your estate and your loved ones are cared for – and your best interests are considered – is through a healthcare proxy form. While these are offered in surplus online, these DIY generic healthcare forms can do more harm than good – especially when they are not drawn up with the assistance of a New York estate planning attorney.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

When you become incapacitated, it is important that you give someone legal authority to communicate with healthcare professionals and discuss your wishes regarding your care. For example, you may not want to be left on a life-sustaining machine, or you may want to donate your organs. Perhaps you do not want to accept a blood transfusion. These are all decisions that your healthcare proxy can make on your behalf through working closely with healthcare professionals to convey your wishes. Similar to a power of attorney, your healthcare proxy acts as your agent – and it does not have to be a spouse or family member. You can choose anyone whom you would like who is of the legal age to make decisions on your behalf. But, you will want that person to be someone who you trust and will honor your wishes – regardless of how difficult that may be to do.

A healthcare proxy will only take effect if you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions on your own. If you are later able to make decisions, then the healthcare proxy will no longer make decisions for you – such as in the case of being temporarily unconscious.

Choosing Your Agent

Because this individual has authority over your care, the agent should be someone who is familiar with you and your wishes. This can be your spouse, parent, child (as long as he or she is over the age of 18), or even a friend. Before executing the proxy, you will want to speak with the person who you are appointing to make sure that he or she is willing to accept the task. Once the healthcare proxy is drawn up, your agent will be given a copy of the document, or the original copy for safe-keeping.

The Dangers of Generic Healthcare Proxies

Online, you will find a slew of generic healthcare proxy forms. They promise that you can fill them out at a discounted rate and appoint your agent, and that they are valid. But, most of these healthcare forms fail to look at the specific laws of your state; they may even ignore laws regarding who can be appointed as an agent. Also, they lack the complexity to protect your wishes – such as whether or not you want to donate your organs, or if you want to be left on life support. Because these generic forms have glaring holes in their content, you may find that when the time comes to use it, it is invalid. Instead of family members being by your bedside, they are in court attempting to fight for their right to make decisions on your behalf.
You can avoid this hassle by having an attorney draft your living will or healthcare directives. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your healthcare proxy and other estate planning forms. Schedule a free consultation today at 516-605-0625, or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

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