A Health Care Proxy is a document that appoints someone to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated. The person who is given this decision making power is called the agent. A Health Care Proxy is to be distinguished from a Power of Attorney. The two are not the same document. A Power of Attorney is a separate document and a Health Care Proxy is also another separate document. In fact, the Power of Attorney will specifically state that it is not for making health care decisions.
You can name any adult to be your Health Care Proxy. You should first consider what is most important to you about your health. You should select someone you trust. You should talk to that person about your wishes in regard to your health care. Importantly, you should discuss with your agent what treatment you would or would not want in the event that you had a terminal illness.
A Health Care Proxy can last indefinitely and it will continue to be valid even after you become incompetent or incapacitated. A Health Care Proxy applies to all types of medical care except artificial nutrition and hydration (these are more commonly referred to as feeding tubes). Artificial nutrition and hydration will not be withheld or withdrawn unless your wishes in this regard have been made known to your agent. Usually you will put a statement in your Health Care Proxy that indicates that you do or do not want artificial nutrition and hydration.