What are Advance Directives for Healthcare?

Advance directives for health care are legal documents that ensure an individual’s wishes are carried out if he or she cannot make decision. New York State recognizes three types of advance directives including a health care proxy, living wills, and do not resuscitate orders (DNR). Even younger and more healthy individuals should consider putting these types of directives into place in case of a serious accident or medical event.


Health Care Proxy in New York


A health care proxy allows individuals to name a health care agent who will make decisions if that person cannot make those decisions for himself or herself. Under state law, these types of decisions can take effect after two doctors examine the individual and determine that person cannot make decisions for his or her health. New York state offers standard forms for a health care proxy.


These directives can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the situation. A temporary health care proxy would be ideal for a person undergoing outpatient surgery requiring anesthesia and would allow the proxy to make decisions quickly if an issue arises. Permanent health care proxies are particularly well suited for older individuals at risk for debilitating medical conditions like alzheimers or dementia.


Living wills


Living wills allow individuals to give directives of what type of medical treatment may be rendered or not rendered in end of life situations. These advance directives allow persons to express their wishes at times when family members and doctors would only be able to guess the terms of treatment.


New York state does not have standard forms and living wills need to be crafted in consort with an attorney to ensure their validity. These advance directives can be particularly well suited to avoid prolonged court battles between family members over the wishes of their incapacitated loved one.


Do not resuscitate orders


Do not resuscitate orders tell doctors and emergency workers not to revive the individual if his or her heart stops or stops breathing. New York state has standard forms for DNR orders but will also need to be signed by doctors.


Individuals may also write DNR instructions in either their living will or health care proxy form. If the individual is too sick to enact this order himself or herself, the person’s health care agent named in a health care proxy form may act. Typically, this individual is a close family member or other relative but may be anyone else who the indivudal trusts.

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