1. What is a health care proxy?
A health care proxy names the person that you want to make your medical decisions if you become incapacitated.
2. Is a health care proxy the same as a living will?
No. A living will is a document that gives instructions about your medical wishes. In Massachusetts, the health care proxy has this power, and while it it easier for everyone if your wishes have been communicated in writing, the health care proxy is not bound by your living will.
3. Can I name both my children as proxies?
No, you can only have one health care proxy at a time. You may name successors if the first person becomes unavailable to serve as your proxy, but only ONE person can act as your agent at one time.
4. When does a health care proxy go into effect?
Usually your doctor “activates” your health care proxy by determining that you are unable to make your own decisions. This can happen, for example, to an elderly person who is suffering from dementia, or a young person who is unconscious after an accident or other illness.
5. Can I revoke my health care proxy?
Yes, you can revoke your health care proxy at any time. In addition, even if a doctor has determined that you are incompetent, if you don’t agree with your proxy’s decisions, YOUR decisions and wishes must be respected unless a court has determined that you are incompetent.