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The health care proxy – three helpful tips

Everyone should have a health care proxy (also called durable power of attorney for health care in some states) and the following three tips should make the process easier.

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. If you don’t have a health care proxy you should not assume that family and friends would be able to speak for you in the case of an emergency. In Massachusetts, for instance, only the health care proxy agent or the state can speak for an individual unable to speak for himself.

1. There are multiple sources for a health care proxy

Most states have information on advance directives for health care, which includes health care proxies. A web 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.

The Benevolent Association maintains a sample 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.

The health care proxy is a legal document and an attorney will be able to assist you in preparing one.

2. Have a thorough conversation with your health care proxy agent(s) about your wishes

When you execute your health care proxy and name the agent you wish to speak for you, it is also an excellent time to have a conversation with the agent about your thoughts on choice of care. The agent and alternate agent you name should know that you are including them in your proxy and should have the opportunity to ask you questions about your choice of care, what you have written in your proxy, and what will be expected of them as an agent.

3. Distribute copies of your executed health care proxy

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

  • Give copies to care providers, your agent, and alternate agent.
    You can also give additional copies to family members, Christian Science practitioners, lawyers, and others who may be involved in your health care decision-making.

  • This is a great time to prepare for 2023 by either executing a new health care proxy, or reviewing your current one to make sure the information is still relevant.