6 reasons you need a health care proxy

Generally speaking, though you are getting older, you feel healthy. If you do wind up in the hospital for some reason, you know what type of care you want. You assume you will simply tell the doctors about it at that time.

That projected future may play out exactly like you hope, but there is really no guarantee. Without any paperwork in place, just how confident are you?

It may be time to consider a health care proxy. This person, also often referred to as an agent, can then make the legal decisions that would otherwise fall to you. Essentially, you choose someone to speak on your behalf when you need it most and when you find yourself unable to do so.

Do you really need it?

Again, you don't feel like you will need this person's assistance soon. Can't you put off your planning and do it later? Unfortunately, life is unpredictable. Here are six situations where you may need to have your proxy in place:

  • You cannot communicate after an accident or an illness. Perhaps you suffered a stroke, for instance, or got injured in a car accident. You cannot speak or write and have very limited ability to communicate with health care officials.
  • Your injuries are so serious that you end up in a coma. Someone has to make important medical decisions on your behalf, but there is clearly no way for you to do so.
  • As you get older, you come down with dementia or Alzheimer's. It starts to make it harder for you to think for yourself, and you may make decisions that are not in your own best interests.
  • You may find out that you have a terminal illness. Recovery is impossible. As your condition deteriorates, you may no longer be able to make medical decisions.
  • Your coma could stretch out until you are in a vegetative state. This does not mean that your medical needs end. You still need someone to decide what treatment you should get and how long it should last.
  • You go in for surgery, you're given general anesthesia, and then there are unexpected complications. Maybe the surgeon makes a mistake. Someone has to make your medical decisions before you wake up.

As you can see, some of these issues are unpredictable. You don't know when a car accident or a surgical mistake could leave you unconscious. You can't predict issues like heart attacks and strokes with complete accuracy.

Your options

That's why it is so important to look into your estate planning options early. Be sure you know where you stand and what steps to take in Georgia to prepare for an unpredictable future.

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