Navigating NJ Health Care Proxy Directives: A Comprehensive Guide by the Law Offices of Wenarsky and Goldstein, LLC

Explore the essentials of NJ Health Care Proxy with Wenarsky and Goldstein, LLC. Learn about the process, legal requirements, and how we can assist in safeguarding your healthcare decisions.

All About Health Care Decision-Making and Proxy Directives

Having a person who can make medical decisions for you can be crucial when medical emergencies happen or when you become unable to decide for yourself. Appointing such a person is possible through a health care proxy, also known as a durable power of attorney for health care.

A 2017 study revealed that only 1 in 3 American adults has completed a health care proxy, which is an advance directive authorizing a specific person to make health care decisions for you. A NJ health care proxy can include your preferences on medical procedures, tests, and treatments if you’re mentally or physically unable to communicate them yourself.

This article explores the importance of designating a proxy as part of health planning. You do not have to be suffering from a life-threatening or terminal disease to designate a health care proxy. Contact the Law Offices of Wenarsky and Goldstein, LLC, today for estate, guardianship, and special needs planning services for you and your loved ones.

Understanding NJ Health Care Proxy

The New Jersey Advance Directives for Health Care Act recognizes three types of advance directives, namely:

  1. A proxy directive: This legal document gives a specific person the authority to make health care decisions for you should you lose your decision-making capacity.
  2. An instruction directive: This document states whether you want life-sustaining treatment withheld or withdrawn in specific situations.
  3. A combined advance directive: This document combines both the health care proxy and instruction directive for more comprehensive coverage.

An advance directive states your preferences regarding future medical treatments if you become too incapacitated to decide.

Legal Requirements for a Valid NJ Health Care Proxy

Creating a valid health care proxy doesn’t require much. It suffices that your legal document is:

  1. In writing
  2. Signed by you
  3. Witnessed by two persons 18 and over or by a notary public, attorney at law, or judge

More importantly, it should contain the following:

  1. Name of the health care representative (proxy)
  2. Name of secondary representatives
  3. Specific directions and instructions
  4. Names of persons who will have a copy of the proxy
  5. Your signature and signing date
  6. Names and signatures of witnesses

Why You Need a Health Care Proxy

When medical emergencies happen, you may be unable to make decisions for your health. Often, family members may also have a hard time making a decision, especially if your condition is unclear or complicated.

Having a health care proxy will give you and your loved ones peace of mind, knowing you will get the medical care and treatment that you want during this difficult time. You do not need to, and should not, wait until you get into your 50s to prepare a health care proxy. In fact, it is best to execute this document as soon as possible in case unexpected situations happen.

The Process of Establishing a Health Care Proxy in NJ

Choosing a Health Care Representative

Your proxy or medical representative will be the one to make decisions when you are too incapacitated to do so. This means you must choose the right person who can make tough decisions when required. Some of the important decisions and responsibilities that a proxy may take on include the following:

  • Making medical treatment decisions, including end-of-life care
  • Identifying health care providers and the place where you will receive medical care
  • Authorize or decline life-support treatments
  • Request Medicare, Medicaid, or life insurance benefits
  • Decide on pain management procedures, including whether or not to allow particular medications
  • Review medical records and receive information from your physician about your medical condition

Since the decisions of your proxy will have a significant impact on your health, keep in mind the following when choosing one:

  • You can appoint your family member, friend, religious or spiritual advisor, or any other adult, except the following:
    • Your attending physician
    • The operator, administrator, or employees of a healthcare institution where you are a patient or a resident, except if they are related to you.
  • Your proxy should be able to decide for you independently of their own wishes.
  • They can decide clearly without letting their emotions get in the way.
  • You should be comfortable discussing your health wishes with this person.
  • They should be someone whom you can trust your life with.
  • The person should be able to immediately come to your aid when needed, which means that you should also consider the residence of the proxy.
  • Your proxy should be able to communicate properly with doctors and medical professionals. They have the ability to come up with a well-informed decision about your health.

Legal Process and Documentation

If you have decided about your proxy, it is time to draft the health care proxy document. Generally, you don’t need a lawyer at this stage. However, you may need the legal guidance of a lawyer if you want to know the extent of power and responsibilities that you would grant to your medical proxy. You may also need to consult an attorney if you have other health planning documents and are wondering how they affect each other.

You can download the proxy form from the New Jersey Department of Health website, complete and sign it before witnesses, and provide copies to your proxy, healthcare provider, and, if needed, your attorney.

How the Law Offices of Wenarsky and Goldstein, LLC Can Help

Naming a health care proxy ensures you receive the medical care that you want in the event that you become incapacitated. Whether you are healthy or have an ongoing health issue, it is important to make plans for the future. Start health planning by assigning a health care proxy and drafting an advance directive with the help of an experienced lawyer.

The Law Offices of Wenarsky and Goldstein, LLC have years of experience in wills, estates, trusts, and guardianship. Our team of lawyers can prepare comprehensive health and estate plans that help you achieve your medical and financial goals.

Do not wait for emergencies to happen to start planning out your future. Contact us today so we can assist you with your health care and estate planning needs.

Call the Law Office of Wenarsky & Goldstein

At the Law Offices of Wenarsky & Goldstein, LLC, our New York and New Jersey attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in bankruptcy, estate planning and probate, guardianship, special needs planning, and real estate law. To learn more about how we can assist you with your legal needs, call us today at 973-453-2838.