Why you should have a healthcare proxy.

//Why you should have a healthcare proxy.

Why you should have a healthcare proxy.

If You Don’t Make a Decision, One Will Be Made For You

My father was ill for many years with a degenerative disease – Parkinson’s. He had his advance directives in order including a healthcare proxy; however he did not choose where he was to be buried. He visited several cemeteries with the family and after seeing all of them we asked him – “So, what do you think?” His answer – “I think I don’t want to die”. After his death, we chose a cemetery for him, I would like to think he would have been satisfied with our choice, but we will never know.

Many people do not have advance directives expressing their wishes regarding their health and their financial life. As with most things in life, if you put off making a decision, one is made for you. Knowing in advance what your choices are will go a long way toward you being satisfied with the outcome. A healthcare proxy is in place in case of your incapacity. It is difficult to think about this topic however ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

New York’s Family Healthcare Decisions Act

In New York, we have a law, the New York Family Healthcare Decisions Act which offers some protection should you become incapacitated without having executed a healthcare proxy. The caveat is that there is a stated priority for which people have the ability to make decisions for you and they may or may not be the people you would want to make the decisions. Without having had discussions with them about this subject, they also may not be the decisions you would want them to make.

An example of this is where your parents do not approve of your significant other or your adult children do not like your life partner. Without the healthcare proxy which establishes who you want to make decisions for you and the pecking order of those decision makers, people who you would not want in charge are given priority by the law.

As it stands now, the law establishes the following priority: 1. The spouse if not legally separated from the patient, or the domestic partner, 2.  A child 18 years or older, 3. A parent; 4.  A brother or sister, and 5.  A close friend.

Several of these categories have the potential for conflict. For instance, spouses may be on the verge of divorce but not legally separated, domestic partners if not registered or able to prove quickly that they qualify by other means may not be the top contender.

If Not For Yourself, For Your Family

So, the priority in a circumstance where a decision has to be made quickly really ought to be delineated in a health care proxy – where it is clear who you want and the order of successor agents. You should also discuss with your agent the types of medical decisions you would make and clarify whether they feel they can advocate for your wishes. The healthcare proxy is your opportunity to make your wishes known and will save your loved ones a lifetime of wondering if they did the right thing.

By | 2019-05-15T13:05:00+00:00 May 14th, 2019|Estate Planning|Comments Off on Why you should have a healthcare proxy.

About the Author:

Deborah Kaminetzky
Deborah E. Kaminetzky is the founder of Kaminetzky Law & Mediation, P.C. located in Long Beach, New York. Prior to starting the firm Deborah worked at a Long Island firm where she learned the practice of Matrimonial and Family law and Estate Planning. Deborah has also worked at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs where she was responsible for prosecuting unlicensed home improvement contractors and negotiating settlements for consumers. Prior to practicing law, Ms. Kaminetzky was the president of a commercial property management corporation in the New York Metro area. Ms. Kaminetzky is a member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, New York State Council on Divorce Mediation, Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York, New York State Bar Association (Business Law, Estate, Family Law, ADR and General Practice Sections), Nassau County Bar Association (where she serves as Chair of the General, Solo and Practice Management Committee, and The Nassau County Women’s Bar Association. Ms. Kaminetzky was appointed to the Committee on Law Practice Management of the New York State Bar Association in 2015 and has been a frequent speaker and author of articles for their journal. Ms. Kaminetzky serves on the Board of Directors of the Yashar Attorney and Judges Chapter of Hadassah as a their Treasurer, and was their Woman of the Year 2012 and Leadership Award Honoree in 2019. Deborah graduated from New York Law School in 1991 and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1986. Ms. Kaminetzky was admitted to the First Department in 1991 and the United States Supreme Court Bar in February of 2015. Deborah is on the Matrimonial fee dispute arbitration panel for Nassau County. She expanded her alternative dispute resolution practice by completing a Mediation certificate program in December of 2013, an advanced Mediation certificate program in 2015 and most recently a Divorce Mediation certificate in early 2016 from The New York Peace Institute. Ms. Kaminetzky has spoken to various groups on topics including matrimonial law, technology and social media use, and disaster preparedness for business including cybersecurity.