A health care proxy, also called a medical power of attorney, is a legal document in which you name a person to make medical decisions, in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself.
Forbes’ recent article entitled, “Health Care Proxies - 5 Biggest Mistakes,” lists the five biggest mistakes people make on this vital document.
No 1: Failing to have one. A study found that two-thirds of us don’t have a health care proxy. If you don’t have one, your doctor may be forced to make decisions in a vacuum. As a result, your wishes may not be respected. Even worse, a court might have to step in to make decisions requiring a guardian’s appointment.
No. 2: Not speaking to those you appoint as your health care agent. This conversation doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy. However, it’s essential to give your agent some understanding of your feelings and wishes.
No. 3: Not addressing religion If you’ve changed faith , married someone of a different faith, or have children with differing religious views, addressing this in your health care documents and your discussions with your agent is critical. Don’t skip religious considerations because you aren’t religious—that’s also an essential part of this.
No. 4: Not having copies of the health care proxy available. You can put together an envelope and write your name, address, phone number and those of your agents on it. Place a copy of your health insurance info, drug cards and health care proxy in the envelope. If you created and signed a living will and/or a POLST (Physical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment) that you signed with your doctor, add copies of those to the envelope and a HIPAA release.
No. 5: Failing to address financial matters. Your health care agent most likely won’t have legal rights to pay medical bills, caregiver costs, or other outstanding bills. You should sign a durable power of attorney, a financial document designating a person (called an agent) to handle financial matters for you. Provide your agent with the necessary information, like bank account information.
Reference: Forbes (March 21, 2023) “Health Care Proxies - 5 Biggest Mistakes”