Be Leery of Generic Health Care Proxy Forms.
If you go to the hospital, you may be presented with a health care proxy form to sign on being admitted. While it might seem easy to sign a generic health care proxy form, having a document that is specifically tailored to your needs is very important.
A health care proxy form, also known as an advance medical directive, allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself. It should also include a Living Will that states what your wishes are for end of life care.
An advance medical directive takes effect only when you require medical treatment and a physician determines that you are unable to communicate your wishes concerning what that treatment should be. Appointing someone to serve as your agent helps ensure that your wishes will be carried out when a crisis occurs.
While an advance medical directive serves to appoint an agent to speak for you, you can also use it to give the agent guidance about your medical wishes. The following are some issues that can be addressed in an advance medical directive:
- The name of the person authorized to act for you. It is good to appoint an alternate as well in case your primary agent is unable to assist you.
- If you are terminally ill, in a coma, or have brain damage with no hope of recovery, you can explain the kind of treatment you do not want. For example, do you want to be kept alive by machines if you are in a persistent vegetative state?
- Under what circumstances you want pain medication to be administered.
- Whether you want to donate your organs.
- Whether you want to be cremated or buried and where and how your remains should be disposed of.
Whatever choices you make, you should take time to consider your health care wishes before drafting an advance medical directive. For this reason, signing a generic hospital form is not a good idea, as such a form will not take your individual wishes into account. Instead, you should work with an estate planning attorney to have a proper advance medial directive prepared that reflects your personal wishes. In addition, if you already have an advance medical directive as a part of your estate plan, the generic form will revoke your more personal advance medical directive.
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