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Do you need a healthcare proxy?

Estate planning is not only for older individuals or those who have children. Every adult can benefit from having one in place. Unfortunately, CNBC reported that 67% of people in the U.S. do not have an estate plan.

If you are still on the fence, it can help to look at specific aspects of estate planning that are applicable to your life so that you can see how having this legal protection can be a good idea. A good example is a healthcare proxy, which is beneficial to anyone of any age.

What it is

A healthcare proxy is the legal appointment of a person who will make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so, such as if you have a health emergency that causes damage to your cognitive abilities. This person, whom you will choose, has the right to decide on end-of-life care and to determine the treatments you may receive.

How it works

You set up your healthcare proxy through a durable power of attorney, which provides the person you appoint with the limited ability to only handle medical situations on your behalf. It only becomes effective when you suffer a medical condition that either renders you unconscious or unable to cognitively function as normal,  which is something you will specify in the document. The person you choose has no authority over any other area of your life.

Why it is important

Anyone could suffer a health emergency at any time. When you do not prepare ahead of time for such a situation, you put your family in an uncomfortable situation where they may have to make life-or-death decisions. By having someone appointed as your healthcare proxy, you alleviate the stress on your loved ones and have peace of mind that there is a person you gave this power to who will make decisions for you.