I Got My Healthcare Proxy at the Hospital

Is it enough get a proxy at the local hospital or from your doctor’s office?

By David J. Zumpano

Doctors and hospitals often provide basic healthcare proxies to ensure someone is authorized to make your healthcare decisions if you can’t.

The good news is having these healthcare proxies are better than nothing, but the bad news is, they’re rarely enough to avoid challenges to your family and, more importantly, to ensure for your wishes to be met.

Doctors and hospitals offer healthcare proxies as a public service but it is far from what a health care proxy should address. A proper healthcare proxy will identify who you appoint to make your health care decisions and what general wishes you want regarding end of life decisions. More importantly a properly drafted healthcare proxy will also address how to provide for you if you are not at your end of life but are incapacitated and unable to make your day-to-day decisions.

The critical distinction is to make sure your healthcare proxy appoints people you trust and provides them the necessary instructions of how to care for you during life and at the end of your life so that your loved ones never have to make those decisions. It can even address your willingness to donate organs and specify who has authority over your remains.

Not having your wishes clearly spelled out can cause a lifetime of regret to those you love who ultimately have to make a decision without knowing what you wanted.

Doctors are there to support your family but doctors do not want to be burdened with those decisions either. They, like your loved ones, just want to do what you want so it’s critical you are clear.

Finally, most healthcare proxies we review, including those from hospitals and doctors, are not even compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If your healthcare proxy is not compliant it does not have to be honored.

Call an estate planning attorney today to get proper documents in place to protect yourself and your family. You want to have a healthcare proxy that addresses all of your needs.

David J. Zumpano is an attorney and a certified public accountant (CPA). He operates Estate Planning Law Center. He can be reached at 315-793-3622.