Three reasons you need a health care proxy — and four steps to set one up today!

The health care proxy allows you to name someone (an “agent”) to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are not able to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Here are three reasons you need a health care proxy (also called a “durable power of attorney for health care” in some states).

  1. DECIDE WHO WILL SPEAK FOR YOU — Without the health care proxy, it is usually the state that will make the decision for you. Don’t assume that family and friends will be able to speak for you in the case of an emergency if you don’t have a health care proxy. In Massachusetts, for example, if an individual is unable to speak for himself only the state or his health care proxy agent can speak for him.
  2. DECIDE YOUR CHOICE OF CARE  —  The health care proxy allows you to decide your choice of care in the case that you cannot speak for yourself. It allows you to set out clearly your wishes for how to be cared for, and in whatever level of detail you want, should there be a need.
  3. BE KIND TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS — It is a kindness to family and close friends to make choice of care decisions in writing, and to discuss them fully. 

Even if you have put off executing a health care proxy, you can do it today.  Here are four simple steps.

Four simple steps to a health care proxy

1

CHOOSE AN AGENT

Individuals often choose a family member or close friend who understands their wishes concerning health care and is willing to act for them.

2

SECURE A FORM FROM YOUR STATE OR ATTORNEY

There are multiple sources for health care proxy forms.

  1. Most states have information on health care proxies. A google search for “health care advance directives” and your state name should bring up a number of websites. Most of the state government sites have samples that can be downloaded for free.
  2. The Benevolent Association provides a Massachusetts health care proxy form for patients at the BA, which is updated whenever Massachusetts state law changes. We are happy to share this with anyone interested in a proxy form that includes language and options often specified by Christian Scientists. You can download it from our website, or email inquiry@chbenevolent.org or call 800-662-9937 ext. 2226.
  3. The health care proxy is a legal document and an attorney will be able to assist you in preparing one.
 

3

SELECT AN OPTION FOR YOUR SITUATION

For instance, the Massachusetts proxy on our website has 3 options…

4

SIGN, FILE & DISTRIBUTE

You should make at least four photocopies. Keep the original for yourself where it can be found easily (not a safe-deposit box).

If you don’t have a health care proxy, I hope this has encouraged you to take steps to get one now. Even if you have an executed health care proxy, it’s a good idea to review it yearly for any updates.

Related links

Advance directives and health care proxy  

Alison Alioto talks health care proxies  

You need a health care proxy – 3 tips  

Take our health care proxy quiz  

 

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