Duties of an Agent Named in a Healthcare Proxy

Individuals in the State of New York can execute healthcare proxies. A healthcare proxy authorizes an agent to make decisions on behalf of the principal, should the principal become incapacitated and be unable to make decisions on his or her own.

Individuals have the right to make medical decisions regarding their healthcare treatment. The right to make medical decisions includes the right to refuse medical treatment or have an existing treatment discontinued. This remains true even if the discontinuance of said treatment can result in the individual’s death.

The New York State legislature enacted Public Health Law (PHL) section 2980 to provide competent adults with the ability to appoint an agent to make medical decisions for them in the event that they lose the capacity to do so. The statute establishes a mechanism to allow individuals to choose or reject various types of treatment.

The person executing the healthcare proxy is known as the “principal”. The individual appointed by the principal is known as the ”agent”.

The healthcare proxy needs to be in writing. It must also be executed by the principal and witnessed by two individuals.

Healthcare proxies are widely recognized in the State of New York by both doctors and hospitals.

Agents Rights and Duties

Public Health Law section 2982 sets up rights and responsibilities for the agent. The statute states that ”an agent shall have authority to make any and all health care decisions on the principal’s behalf that the principal could make”. The statute goes on to state that the agent has the right to receive any and all medical records necessary to make informed decisions and that the agent’s decisions have priority over decisions by any other person. Furthermore, the statute states that if the principal’s wishes are not reasonably known and cannot be ascertained, that the agent ”shall make health care decisions in accordance with the principal’s best interests”.

The purpose of the healthcare proxy is to allow an agent to carry out the principal’s wishes. The healthcare proxy is valid in hospital settings, doctors offices and in emergency situations.

Should you have any questions regarding healthcare proxies or any other aspect of elder law, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo to discuss these issues with one of our elder care attorneys at 1-800-344-6431.

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