In New York you can create a health care proxy that allows you to appoint someone else to make medical decisions if you ever lose your ability to do so. The person you appoint becomes your health care agent, and has the legal right to make sure your doctors and health care providers do what you want them to.
Fact 1: You can make one whenever you wish. As long as you are 18 and mentally capable of making decisions, you can create a health care proxy whenever you wish. Of course, you also have to make sure the document meets all legal requirements, such as signing it and having it witnessed by two people.
Fact 2: You are never required to have them. You are never under any obligation to create a health care proxy or any type of living will. Using these documents is important, but it is always voluntary. Further, you must sign your proxy yourself and cannot be forced to make one against your will.
Fact 3: They aren’t just for old people. Though many people believe that only the elderly need a health care proxy, quite the opposite is true. Younger adults, especially those with children, should have a health care proxy as a precaution against accidents or sudden illness. Failing to have one may lead to family conflicts and unnecessary delays or legal expenses. In fact, the New York State Department of Health recommends that everyone 18 or older should appoint a health care agent.