New York Health Care Proxy
A New York health care proxy is a legal form that authorizes an agent to carry out a principal’s medical wishes and make health-related decisions on their behalf. The agent only has this ability if the principal cannot speak for themselves or passes away. This health care proxy is a dual form, meaning that it combines a medical power of attorney and living will. A living will enables a principal to write their medical wishes and assign an agent to carry them out as stated. In contrast, a medical power of attorney allows the agent to make treatment decisions for the principal.
An agent only determines a principal’s care plan if they have not included their wishes. For example, this form does not include a section about emergency surgery. However, the principal can include these preferences in the document. If they do not, the agent must use their best judgment to decide whether or not the principal should receive an operation if a doctor recommends it.
The principal must be coherent and mentally sound to complete and sign the document. If the principal has become unable to speak for themselves and does not have a medical power of attorney, a judge must appoint an agent for them. This process often impacts family members or friends, as it takes time and money to set a court date. Therefore, a principal should fill out this form, especially if they are experiencing a medical situation that could result in their incapacitation or death. These conditions include:
- Severe injuries that make speaking or writing impossible (i.e., brain, spine, etc.);
- Being in a comatose or vegetative state;
- Enduring a stroke that impacts principal’s ability to communicate;
- Being under the influence of general anesthesia;
- Alzheimer’s disease or dementia;
- Lou Gehrig’s disease; and/or
- Huntington’s disease.
Signing requirements (PBH § 2981(2)): The principal must sign and date the form, or they must direct another individual to sign it on their behalf. Two (2) adult witnesses must be present during the signing.