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The benefits of selecting a health care agent

An important estate planning document that New York residents should have on file is known as a "health care proxy." Your health care proxy is a document that allows another individual of your choosing to make health care related decisions on your behalf in the event that you're not able to do so yourself.

Even if you don't have a health care proxy on file, medical practitioners will get in touch with your family members if you become incapacitated. Whether the incapacitation be temporary or permanent, a family member will be assigned to make important decisions regarding your medical care, but which family member will that be?

It's not uncommon for families to quarrel over what they believe is best for their loved one's health care needs. A health care proxy solves this potential problem by allowing you to specifically state who you want to be in charge of your care.

Let's take a look at the four most important benefits of health care proxies:

-- Let's your selected agent decide how your health care will be administered;

-- Let's you select the person you feel is best suited to make decisions for you;

-- Helps your family avoid conflicts if your loved ones disagree about your care; and

-- Allows you to indicate a secondary person as your agent in the event the first person is unable to fulfill his or her duties.

A health care proxy is one of the simplest and most basic elements of a well-planned estate. If you don't have a health care proxy, you might want to speak with a New York estate planning attorney, who can help you prepare one.

Source: New York State Department of Health, "Health Care Proxy," accessed April 27, 2017

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