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What is a health care proxy?

While planning your estate, you learn about health directives and health care proxies. How do these terms fit into your plan and affect your end-of-life desires?

The American Bar Association explains health care proxies and health directives. Ensure you have someone in your life to express your health care wishes when you cannot.

Health directives

With a health directive, you have a legal document that notes your medical desires for situations where you cannot communicate. If you fall into a coma or develop dementia, your health directive lets your loved ones know what you want for medical matters like using a feeding tube and resuscitation. These legal documents make life easier for families and medical care providers. Your family need not agonize over making the right medical decision for you if you cannot communicate, and your doctor need not ask your family to reach a consensus regarding your health care.

Health care proxies

Your health care proxy is the person you wish to speak with your authority about your health care if you become incapacitated. It makes sense to appoint a main health care proxy and a younger successor. That way, if your named proxy dies before you, you still have someone to fill the role. You and your primary candidate may have a falling out one day. If so, your successor may step up.

No matter whom you choose as your proxy or successor, talk to the person about the role before making your decision official. You do not want the role to come as a shock to your proxy if you become incapacitated suddenly.

Ensure you have a way to protect your health and peace of mind with a health directive and health care proxy. A single document may save you and your loved ones a lot of frustration.


Christine S. Cook has earned a reputation in the legal community for her professionalism and among her clients for the care and personal attention she gives to every case.

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