Health Care Proxy — Importance of Filling in the Optional Section

By Scott Koldin

This entry was posted on April 26, 2013

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document in New York State which allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.

New York state provides a standard form in the law. This standard form is widely used by attorneys, physicians and hospitals.

There is an optional section on the form with blank lines for additional instructions. We have found that most new clients who come to our office either don't have a Health Care Proxy or have one with the optional section for additional instructions left blank.

Under New York law, your Health Care Proxy agent does not have the authority to make health care decisions for you about artificial nutrition and hydration (nourishment and water provided by feeding tube and intravenous line) unless you have made your wishes known to your agent.

As a practical matter, most hospitals and physicians will be very reluctant to follow an agent's instructions without the necessary proof of your wishes. Therefore, it is critical that you make your wishes known in this optional section of your Health Care Proxy.

The Koldin Law Center, P.C., prepares Health Care Proxies for clients that always include specific instructions on your wishes regarding removal of life support, artificial nutrition and hydration. Unless the client instructs us otherwise, the Health Care Proxy we prepare also makes clear that you desire whatever treatment necessary for your comfort and to alleviate pain.