A health care proxy is an advance directive designed to allow the person of your choosing to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
The estate planning attorneys at Pierro, Connor & Strauss also build into the proxy additional language sometimes referred to as a “living will,” which explains the type of treatment you would like to have or to have discontinued, should you be unable to speak for yourself.
This takes the onus off relatives who might otherwise have to struggle with these decisions.
Keep in mind that you cannot name your doctor as your health care agent as they cannot act as both your physician and proxy. The doctor is the person who determines whether you no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions and should have a copy of the health care proxy.
What a Health Care Proxy Can and Cannot Do
Your health care agent has only as much authority granted by state law and as you authorize. There are limitations.
For example, the individual named as your health care agent cannot decide that you should no longer receive artificial feeding and water unless your agent knows your wishes. The agent is also not responsible for your finances or medical bills.