Constructing advanced directives for your medical decisions

You have several options when it comes to planning advanced directives for medical decisions that will have to be made on your behalf. You can plan for this contingency by writing down on paper how you would like to be medically treated if you cannot provide that answer yourself, and designating people to carry out your wishes.

The New York Department of Health provides instructions in several ways, such as living wills, health care proxy forms, DNR forms, MOLST forms, power of attorneys and the FHCDA, which will make sure this possible occurrence is planned for. 

Living Will

A living will provides detailed instructions, in writing, explaining your health care wishes. This is especially useful in detailing how your end-of-life care should be handled. A living will clarifies any uncertainty of who will handle your health care wishes and how they will be handled.

Other tools that will designate what kind of medical decisions are made on your behalf and/or who will carry them out are:

  • Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) forms,
  • Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) forms, or
  • A Power of Attorney (POA)

Health care proxy

This form will designate a healthcare agent that will make healthcare decisions on your behalf when the doctor determines that you cannot make those decisions for yourself. The agent is not financially responsible for the cost of your care.

The agent is instructed by you, either orally or in writing, how you want to be medically treated. You can designate the health care agent to make all health care decisions on your behalf or limit the decisions that they can make. 

Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA)

This policy determines the order of priority that designates the people in your life as having the authority to make all health care decisions for you based on your wishes or best interest:

  • An MHL Article 81 court-appointed guardian if one is appointed,
  • A spouse or domestic partner, 
  • An adult child,
  • A parent,
  • A brother or sister, or
  • A close friend.

This New York Department of Health law, FHCDA, makes it possible for family members, close friends or other individuals to act as a surrogate when you do not have any advanced directives in place. 

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