Austin Texas Estate Planning Blog

Biggest HealthCare Proxy Blunders

Biggest HealthCare Proxy Blunders

May 3, 2023 • | Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC
Everyone age 18 and over should have a health care proxy document signed (think children off to college, and yourself, not just an elderly parent).

A health care proxy, also called a medical power of attorney, is a legal document in which you name a person to make medical decisions if you cannot do so for yourself. You would typically execute this document as part of a comprehensive estate plan. But you should be aware of some healthcare proxy blunders.

Forbes’ recent article, “Health Care Proxies - 5 Biggest Mistakes,” lists the five biggest mistakes people make on this vital document.

Healthcare Proxy Blunder No 1: Failing to have one. A study found that two-thirds of us don’t have a healthcare proxy. If you don’t have one, your doctor may be forced to make decisions in a vacuum. As a result, your wishes may not be respected. Even worse, a court might have to make decisions requiring a guardian’s appointment.

Healthcare Proxy Blunder No. 2: Not speaking to those you appoint as your healthcare agent. This conversation doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy. However, understanding your feelings and wishes is essential for your agent.

Healthcare Proxy Blunder No. 3: Not addressing religion If you’ve changed faith, married someone of a different faith, or have children with differing religious views, handling this in your healthcare documents and your discussions with your agent is critical. Don’t skip religious considerations because you aren’t religious—that’s also essential.

Healthcare Proxy Blunder No. 4: Not having copies of the healthcare proxy available. You can assemble an envelope and write your name, address, phone number, and those of your agents on it. Place a copy of your health insurance info, drug cards, and health care proxy in the envelope. If you created and signed, a living will and/or a POLST (Physical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment) with your doctor, add copies to the envelope and a HIPAA release.

Healthcare Proxy Blunder No. 5: Failing to address financial matters. Your healthcare agent most likely won’t have legal rights to pay medical bills, caregiver costs, or other outstanding bills. You should sign a durable power of attorney, a financial document designating a person (called an agent) to handle financial matters for you. Provide your agent with the necessary information, like bank account information.

Reference: Forbes (March 21, 2023) “Health Care Proxies - 5 Biggest Mistakes”

Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC

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