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Health Care Proxy in New York – Basics and Frequently Asked Questions

Health Care Proxy in New York

New York Health Care Proxy Basics

Under New York law, a person is allowed to appoint an agent to make health care decisions on their behalf if they are unable to make those decisions on their own by preparing and signing a health care proxy form. The designated health care agent has the ability to interpret a person’s wishes as their medical condition changes and circumstances surrounding their health care change.

A person can designate the types of decisions they want their agent to make and/or put an expiration period on the health care proxy. It is also possible to designate a successor when an agent is unavailable or to make two health care proxy designees giving agents different decision-making powers with or without time limits. For example, a person could designate a spouse with the decision-making process regarding life support and do not resuscitate matters and designate a son or daughter, who must be over the age of 18, with the decision-making process regarding organ donor decisions.

Decisions that are commonly made by a Health Care Proxy designee include the following:

  • Life support when a person is in a coma
  • Treatments continued or discontinued
  • Artificial nutrition and hydration and under what types of circumstances
  • Organ donor decisions

Health care proxy in New York is the same document that is called a Health Care Power of Attorney in many other states.

Who Can be a New York Health Care Proxy Agent?

The following persons can be designed as your agent:

  • A spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • A child over the age of 18
  • Sibling
  • Father or mother or both jointly or another family member
  • Friend
  • An attorney

A person’s doctor or health care provider cannot be their agent under New York law. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers are required to abide by a person’s health care proxy and follow the person’s wishes and the decisions made by the person’s agent. An agent will not be held liable for any decisions.

Making Changes to the New York Health Care Proxy

If a person decides to change an agent, this can be done easily at any time by signing a new health care proxy form. Otherwise, the existing health care proxy would remain in effect until a person passes away unless it has an expiration period. When a person gets a divorce or they are legally separated, the appointment of an ex-spouse is automatically canceled. However, if a person wants their ex-spouse to remain as their health care proxy agent, a statement can be added by them to the current health care proxy, or they can sign a new one.

It is a good idea for a person to keep a copy of their health care proxy where it can be easily accessed such as in their wallet and to give a copy to their agent, other family members, a close friend or attorney in case there is an emergency, and the person is unable to make decisions about their own health care and treatments. This way a person knows that their wishes will be followed. An attorney can assist with the preparation of a health care proxy and answer any questions a person may have about the use of it.

If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774.