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Why do many people put off appointing a healthcare proxy?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2024 | Estate Planning And Litigation |

Thinking about your mortality is rarely pleasant. Therefore, it’s no surprise that many people put off important estate planning tasks, like appointing a healthcare proxy.

This document, also known as a durable power of attorney for healthcare, can allow you to designate a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself due to illness or incapacity. While the importance of a healthcare proxy is undeniable, procrastination often reigns supreme.

Fear of finality

Facing your own mortality can be a daunting task. Appointing a healthcare proxy can feel like a concrete step toward the end, triggering anxieties about illness and decline. This emotional hurdle is a significant barrier, leading some to postpone the conversation altogether.

Lack of urgency

Good health often breeds a sense of invincibility. People might believe a healthcare proxy is only necessary for the elderly or terminally ill. This misconception overlooks the unexpected – accidents, strokes or sudden illnesses can strike anyone at any time.

Family discomfort

Conversations about healthcare can be sensitive, especially within families with strained relationships or differing medical philosophies. The fear of conflict or disagreement can also lead individuals to avoid discussing the topic altogether.

Misunderstanding the role

Confusion about the role of a healthcare proxy is another common reason for procrastination. Some believe it gives the proxy complete control over their care, while others worry their wishes won’t be respected. A clear understanding of the document’s purpose and limitations is crucial.

Logistical hurdles

The legal process might seem daunting, filled with unfamiliar terminology and paperwork. However, the reality is often simpler — many resources exist to guide individuals through the steps. Hospitals often provide templates, and some employers even offer legal assistance programs.

Appointing a healthcare proxy is a thoughtful and empowering act. Acknowledging the reasons behind your own procrastination and taking legal steps once you’ve processed them can help to ensure that your healthcare wishes are respected, even if you can’t speak for yourself at some point in the future.

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