Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic has a controversial blog. One of his recent posts talked about the pain that he saw his father going through. It is a conversation that we have with our clients quite often. A document appointing a health care proxy is not enough, nor is a living will. It is important to have both documents – it is also possible to have one document, an usually called an Advance Medical Directive, which incorporates both.
When choosing someone to make decisions on your behalf, a person called a health care proxy, like the form, it is important that your chosen proxy can follow your wishes. Will the proxy be able to tell the doctor not to put you on life support, or not to attempt to bring you back, if there is a problem? Not all family members can make those decisions. It is a difficult thing to do. It’s important that before you choose your health care proxy, you have a discussion with him or her.
It’s also important that you know exactly what you want and how you want your care to be handled. A good health care proxy will leave instructions with details about what you do, or do not, want. You should communicate your wishes to your attorney.
New York State’s Department of Health has a page of information about health care proxies, as well as a form that you can download and complete. If you do not have a health care proxy, you should take the time to complete one soon.