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Who can make health care decisions for you?

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2023 | Estate Planning | 0 comments

If you have never suffered a serious injury or major illness, it might be tempting to take your good health for granted. Still, many medical issues can put you in the hospital. Even worse, many injuries and illnesses can incapacitate you, making it impossible for you to make informed decisions about your own medical care.

The prospect of not being able to communicate your health care wishes might make you feel uneasy. Therefore, you may want to designate a health care proxy who can make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. If you do not do this, though, state law dictates who can speak for you.

Ranking classes

In Pennsylvania, certain individuals have higher priority when it comes to making medical decisions for an incapacitated loved one as a “healthcare representative.” In descending order, these individuals include the following:

  • Your spouse
  • Your adult children who are not of your spouse
  • Other adult children
  • Your parents
  • Your adult siblings
  • Your adult grandchildren
  • Other adults who know what you want

Your comfort with leaving your medical decisions to the above individuals might depend on the relationships you have with each of them. Nevertheless, you might prefer to have someone make your health care decisions who is either lower on the list or not on the list at all.

Health care proxies

According to Penn State Health, you can use your estate plan to designate the adult you want to help make medical decisions. Doctors and other health care providers do not have to go through the ranked list,  but will should listen to the person you choose to be your health care proxy.

Ultimately, regardless of your current health, it is better to plan ahead and name a health care proxy you trust.