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Everybody needs an advocate when they're incapacitated

A tragic health catastrophe can happen to you at any time. If your health problem is so severe that it leaves you incapacitated, you won't be able to make decisions for yourself, and someone else will need to take care of important details pertaining to your health care. This is where the New York Health Care Proxy Law comes into action to assist you -- that is, if you took appropriate action ahead of time.

The law empowers you to name a trusted individual to make health care decisions for you in the event of your incapacitation. If you're 18 or older, this law applies to you, and you're well-served to name your health care proxy. Designating your health care proxy will eliminate the need for court action by a family member to step forward on your behalf. It will also help prevent the chance of family fights in court over who should make decisions for you.

The two situations when your health care proxy will be needed are:

-- When you temporarily cannot make a medical decision for yourself. For example, let's say something unintended happens during surgery and a decision must be made. Your health care agent can make that decision for you. The proxy will have temporary decision-making authority until you're able to make decisions again.

-- When you permanently cannot make health care decisions. Perhaps you become comatose due to a serious illness or your enter into a persistent vegetative state due to illness or injury. In this case, your health care proxy will be granted decision-making powers over your health care permanently.

A health care proxy is a vital part of any New York resident's estate planning. In fact, it is the very least that someone should complete when it comes to planning their estates. For more information about the other important components of an estate plan, a New York estate planning attorney can help.

Source: New York State Department of Health, "Who Will Speak for You?," accessed June 16, 2017

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