With COVID-19 here and seemingly not going anywhere, have you ever thought about what happens if you should need a ventilator? When COVID-19 attacks your respiratory system, it may become necessary for doctors to place you on a ventilator to help your body fight the disease. Frequently, it’s necessary for you to be in a medically-induced coma while you’re connected to a ventilator. In such an event, you will be unable to make decisions on your own behalf. If you have a healthcare proxy, you will have designated a trusted person to make those decisions for you and to make sure that your treatment is in accordance with your wishes.
This is a scary scenario and of course, we hope that no one needs to go through this process; but when it’s time to make such tough decisions, it’s better to be prepared.
Preparing a Health Care Proxy
1. Find the forms! You can get the necessary forms online, from an attorney, or from some medical professionals.
2. Review the forms! Don’t just sign the forms and hope for the best. This is a document that will clearly state your wishes and designate an agent to make critical health decisions for you. Do the research: be sure to define any terms you don’t fully understand; read books; and articles. Every individual is a little different and the more you plan, the better. Consider your religious beliefs, your preferred treatment options, and your end-of-life wishes.
3. Designate an Agent! Have a discussion with the person or people you are considering. Be sure they understand the responsibility, and be sure it is very clear who will be your agent - questions or confusion can be destructive and time-wasting. Once your form has been executed, the agent should have a copy of the form. An alternate agent should be identified in the event your primary agent is unable to act.
4. Execute the document! This form needs to be signed and witnessed. As Hudson Standard serves New York, we adhere to New York State laws regarding health care proxies. We can execute health care proxies and other documents online or in person.
5. Store the documents! As we said earlier, give a copy of the healthcare proxy to your agent(s) but also to your healthcare provider. You can store it with your family medical doctor, or store the documents with Hudson Standard: we will provide you with a business card that will help anyone providing you care to locate the vital documents. Unlike a will or power of attorney, a health care proxy can be something needed in an urgent and critical situation.
6. Update! Every year or so, check your health care proxy to determine if any updates or changes are necessary. If you store your documents with Hudson Standard, we will email you each year to ensure no updates are needed.
If you’d like to learn more about health care proxies, living wills, or other important documents associated with estate planning, join our webinar on July 24th at 11am-12:30pm. The webinar will cover medical terminology, legality, and a number of other critical issues related to your health care wishes and living wills.