Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer

Health Care Proxy vs Power Of Attorney

What is a Health Care Proxy?

Health care proxy and power of attorney explained by a power of attorney lawyer in New York.

Understanding health care proxy vs power of attorney is important.

In New York, a health care proxy is a legal document appointing another person (the agent) power over your health care decisions. Most choose to appoint a family member or trusted friend and this person makes decisions about health care if someone loses his or her ability to make these decisions on their own.

For example, if you were to be injured in a car crash and be in a coma, your health care proxy would have the legal authority to speak to the doctor and make decisions about your care. It’s important for anyone over the age of 18 to appoint a health care agent.

This person is responsible for carrying out your wishes, so it’s important to consider your beliefs and discuss these with your health care proxy candidate. It’s also a good idea to discuss your wishes with your primary health care providers, so he or she can provide information and guidance appropriate to your situation. Make sure you can differentiate health care proxy vs power of attorney.

Permanent & Temporary Power of Attorney Agents

Your health care agent could be responsible for decision making on your behalf on a temporary or permanent basis. Temporary decisions are made during a limited time period in which you are unable to make a decision for yourself. For instance, if a decision must be made while you are undergoing surgery, your health care agent would make that decision. Once you regain consciousness, the agent loses his or her authority over your health care decisions.

If an incident leaves you permanently incapacitated, your health care agent would be granted permanent authority to act. In addition to unconsciousness, this would also apply to a person living in a persistent vegetative state, being unable to communicate, or suffering from senility or dementia – situations in which you are conscious, but not capable of making decisions about your health care.

Consult With a New York Power of Attorney Lawyer

When you appoint a health care agent, you have the right to give that person as much or as little authority as you choose. You can provide specific instructions or leave judgment in his or her hands as it relates to certain scenarios. Doctors and all medical staff must follow your agent’s directions as if they were your own, so make sure you trust this person to act as an advocate on your behalf. Together with a living will, your health care agent can make decisions that are in your best interest and for your benefit.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

A health care proxy is a legal document where you appoint somebody to make all health care decisions for you when you can’t make decisions for yourself because of some physical or mental incapacity.

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

The concept is the same in which you appoint someone to make health care decisions for you when you can’t do so for yourself.  New York State doesn’t use the term “health care power of attorney”.

How does Power of Attorney work?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document where you appoint someone to make all kinds of decisions for you – it can include anything except health care decision making.

What if I Haven’t Signed a Health Care Proxy?

According to NY State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried:

“… allows family members or a close friend (if there are no family members) to act as a “surrogate” or representative of the patient to make health care decisions, including withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment, for a patient who loses the ability to make those decisions when the patient has not signed a health care proxy. The law includes extensive rules and procedures to protect the patient.”

How Is a Healthcare Proxy Different Than a Durable Power of Attorney?

The term “durable” usually means that the legal agreement will continue to be effective if one is disabled. In today’s environment, power of attorney is generally always durable so that they can be used while you’re well, but also when you’re incapacitated.

Health care proxies are only used when a patient is disabled and/or incapacitated and can’t make health decisions for themselves. While you have the physical and mental capacity, you are always in charge of your health care decision-making.

What Is the Difference Between Healthcare Proxy and Power of Attorney?

A healthcare proxy is used only for health care decision making and a power of attorney is for all other types of matters.

A health care proxy is only used when you’re incapacitated and can’t make health care decisions.

A power of attorney can be used while you’re incapacitated (which is a classic use of the instrument), but can also be used while you’re well because you’re unable to conduct some type of transaction or want someone else to handle a matter for you.

Who Can Override a Power of Attorney?
The person creating the power of attorney can cancel it, revoke or modify it so long as the person has mental capacity to do so. A court can cancel a power of attorney if it’s determined that the person appointed is abusing his/her powers and not acting in the best interests of the person who created the power of attorney.
Power of Attorney versus Living Will

The person appointed under a health care proxy can make all kinds of medical decisions, which are as varied as giving consent to medical care to withdrawing treatment and medical interventions and allowing the patient to die naturally.

A Living Will is an expression of your wishes for End of Life Decision-making. Many people have strong feelings about being artificially kept alive with machines, hydration, and feeding when there’s no hope for recovery and death could be imminent. A Living Will should be a clear expression of your wishes and what you want to happen should those circumstances arise. You create a Living Will while you’re alive and well. The agent appointed under your Health Care Proxy should follow your wishes for end of life decision making should the situation arise and implement your wishes using the powers of the Health Care Proxy.

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We Can Help You Understand Health Care Proxy vs Power of Attorney

If you having difficulty understanding the difference between the legal aspects of Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney, we can help clear everything up. Contact us here or below on this page’s contact form.

Elan Wurtzel

Personal Injury Attorney

527 Old Country Rd.
Plainview, New York 11803

Phone: (516) 822-7866
Fax: (516) 822-7889

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