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Healthcare Proxy Roles & Responsibilities

Protecting your health even in the unexpected is vital. In this guide, we go over what a Healthcare Proxy is and what their responsibilities are.

In life, you can never truly know what may happen in the future. It can only take a second for your life to change dramatically, including when it comes to your health and welfare. When you are in good health, it can be hard to imagine—and often we don’t want to imagine—a time when that won’t be the case. However, since circumstances can change in an instant, it’s a smart decision to plan ahead and prepare ourselves for the uncertainties in life. Choosing a Healthcare Proxy is one way that you can legally document your health directives in advance.

Trust & Will, a leader in online estate planning services, wants to help make sure that you are aware of your Estate Plan options and how to decide on the best healthcare directives for you. That is why we have put together this article explaining everything you need to know about Healthcare Proxy roles and responsibilities.  

After reading this article, you will have the answers to the following questions:

What Is a Healthcare Proxy?

A Healthcare Proxy is a legal document that allows you to choose someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot make the decision for yourself. 

Some examples of situations where someone may need to make medical decisions for you include:

  • Coma

  • Alzheimer's disease or advanced dementia

  • Significant memory loss

  • Pre-existing mental conditions 

  • Brain death

Legal forms for Healthcare Proxies are one of the many documents you can access online to include with your Powers of Attorney documents and ensure that you have all areas of your end of life planning accounted for. 

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Healthcare Proxy?

In the broadest terms, the sole role and responsibility of a Healthcare Proxy will be to make any and all healthcare-related decisions should the person they are representing become unable to do so for themselves.  In other words, it will be your Healthcare Proxy’s responsibility to make your important healthcare decisions - including end-of-life decisions, on your behalf,  and in the manner that you would prefer. Should there be decisions to make that were previously undiscussed,  your Healthcare Proxy will be tasked to make those decisions using their own discernment. They will become your healthcare advocate, acting as your stand-in and your voice in all medical-related decisions, when necessary. 

Because your chosen representative will be making all medical decisions as your named Healthcare Proxy, there are countless medical decisions they will be responsible for. Below is a list of a few of the decisions your Healthcare Proxy  may be asked to make:

  • Decisions on surgeries and medical tests 

  • Which medications you can take

  • When to decline life-support

  • Deciding on your long-term medical care plans

  • If you will  need to be moved to an assisted-living, nursing home or Hospice facility

  • Staying in contact with your medical team and answering their questions

  • Staying up-to-date with your medical information

How do I choose the right Healthcare Proxy?

Deciding who you want to choose as your Healthcare Proxy is not a decision you will want to make lightly. This trusted person will have the power and final say over all of your medical decisions if you can no longer be responsible for them yourself. Thus, you will want to make sure you spend time thinking over who you want to choose, and ask yourself the following questions:

Do I trust them with my life?

The first and most important question you will need to ask yourself is -  who do you trust most to make critical life decisions for you?  Are you confident that they will make decisions with your best interests in mind? Your life will literally be in the hands of your appointed Healthcare Proxy, therefore, choosing one should not be taken lightly. 

Will they be comfortable with the responsibility?

You are putting someone you love in a difficult position when deciding to make them your Healthcare Proxy, especially when it comes to end-of-life decisions. You may have determined that you do not want any extraordinary measures implemented to prolong your life, or you may decide that all forms of life support should be withdrawn if you are clinically diagnosed with brain death or permanent incapacity. Your Healthcare Proxy will be responsible for ensuring that your health directives are met, even if they may not agree with the choices you want them to make on your behalf. It will be important to choose someone who will be comfortable and capable of carrying out your advance directives. 

What conversations should I have with my Healthcare Proxy?

Once someone has officially agreed to accept the role as your Healthcare Proxy, there are some important conversations that you will want to have with them to ensure that they understand all of your wishes. It will be a wise idea for you and your Healthcare Proxy to sit down together and go over all major healthcare decisions your Healthcare Proxy may have to make, and how you would like them to be handled. A few examples of questions you will want to cover include, but are not limited to:

  • Do you want extraordinary measures?

  • What medications are you allergic to?

  • Who in your family, or which friends do you want to have access to your medical records?

  • In the event that you should require a skilled-nursing care facility, do you have any specific facilities in mind that you are most interested in?

These topics and questions will help you have control over your medical decisions, even if you cannot be present to speak up for yourself. 

Estate planning and ensuring not only that your healthcare directives have been clarified, but all other aspects of your life are accounted for, are decisions you will want to put careful consideration into.  Although it can be a bit unnerving having to determine who you will want in charge of your healthcare, creating your Estate Plan and naming your Healthcare Proxy does not have to be. In fact, here at Trust & Will, our goal is to make the process as easy and seamless as possible. You can complete a fully customizable Estate Plan with all the important legal documents you need from your computer at home.

So what are you waiting for? Consider getting started today!