Health Care Proxy FAQs

Who can fill out a Health Care Proxy?

Any competent person over 18. Any person who is married or who has had a child.

Can the Proxy be revoked or changed?

Yes, the person can revoke it. If they want to change it, they just make out a new one.

Does the Proxy expire?

Only if the person has put an expiration date on it when it was created. Otherwise, it is indefinite unless revoked or changed (see above).

Can a person’s doctor be their agent?

Legally they can, but then the doctor has to remove him/herself from the person’s care if the proxy is invoked. We do not recommend people use their doctor.

How many agents must the person appoint?

At least one, preferably two. They may appoint more but that would be unusual.

Who can witness the person’s signature?

Any competent adult 18 and over who knows the person and can say they are signing this of their own free will. The proxy must have 2 witness signatures and neither can be any agent.

What if the person has an advance directive from another state? Can we use that?

Yes, as long as it meets the requirements of that state. New York’s proxy forms should be recognized in other states also.

What if the person doesn’t have any one they feel comfortable appointing as an agent?

Suggest that they make out a living will to at least document what their wishes are.

What if the person gets divorced and their spouse is named as agent?

The ex-spouse can no longer serve as an agent. The other agent would be used. The best thing is to suggest that the person make out another proxy form.

Who should have copies of the proxy form?

The person making it out, their agents, the doctor offices the person frequents. Also, send a copy to the Medical Records department at the hospital.

When does the proxy get used?

Only when the person can not make decisions for themselves. This could be a temporary or permanent situation.

What if the person cannot write their name on the signature line?

An X or mark is acceptable.

Must the proxy be dated?

Yes, it will not be valid if not dated.

What if the person has filled out more than one proxy form?

The most recent one that is filled out correctly is the one that would be followed.

Is there anything that has to be addressed on the proxy?

Yes, nutrition and hydration must be addressed on the form and your agent(s) must know what your wishes are with regard to this.

What is the difference between a health care proxy and living will?

The health care proxy is the legally recognized document in New York State. This allows you to state your wishes and choose whom you want to speak for you if you can’t. The living will is only used to show what your wishes are, it does not allow you to choose someone to speak for you. It is most important to have someone designated to speak for you.