Mississippi Health Care Proxy Attorneys in Brandon, Rankin County, & Scott County

Medical professional holding her patients hand

None of us can predict the future, including unexpected medical crises. Naming a healthcare proxy allows you to appoint another person as your healthcare agent to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself. You can also include your wishes as to which medical procedures you would or would not like to receive in a medical emergency or end-of-life situation.

A healthcare proxy is an important legal document that should be included in your estate plan. The estate planning attorneys at Palmer & Slay, PLLC understand how difficult it can be to think about medical emergencies and end-of-life situations. Our compassionate attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you understand the medical decisions you can make in an advance healthcare directive.

What Is a Healthcare Proxy?

A healthcare proxy, also called a healthcare agent, is a person you designate to make decisions if you cannot communicate your wishes due to a medical emergency or condition that renders you incapacitated. The designation of a healthcare proxy usually happens in a legal document called a healthcare proxy, durable power of attorney for health care, or advanced care directive.

How to Choose a Healthcare Proxy

Choosing a person to act as your healthcare proxy can be difficult. The decision is a personal one that requires careful consideration. You’ll benefit from choosing someone willing to advocate for the medical care you would want if you could express your wishes. 

You should choose someone who understands your preferences, values, and wishes related to your medical treatment. Naming an alternate healthcare proxy is important, especially if your first choice is unable or unwilling to act as your healthcare proxy.

Creating an Advance Healthcare Directive in Mississippi

Working with an attorney to create your estate planning documents can help ensure they are legally enforceable in Mississippi. Mississippi recognizes advance healthcare directives that allow patients to refuse medical treatment or request treatment if they cannot communicate their decisions themselves. 

The first part of an advanced healthcare directive is the power of attorney for healthcare. You can appoint a healthcare proxy or agent to make decisions about your healthcare if you can no longer speak for yourself. 

The second part includes your individual instructions for medical care. The second part is similar to a living will because it allows you to state your preferences about specific medical treatments in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself and are permanently unconscious or terminally ill. Your stated preferences should also be followed when the burdens of the proposed treatment would outweigh the expected benefits. 

The third part allows you to express your wishes regarding organ donation. The fourth part allows you to designate a physician primarily responsible for your health care. Finally, the fifth part contains the signature and witnessing and notary provisions to make the document legally effective.

Ensuring Your Mississippi Advance Healthcare Directive Is Legally Enforceable

You have two options in Mississippi to ensure your advance healthcare directive is legally binding. First, you can sign the document in the presence of two eligible witnesses, at least 18 years of age.

Neither of the witnesses can be a healthcare provider, the person you appointed as your healthcare proxy, or an employee of a healthcare provider or facility. The witnesses cannot be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption or entitled to any part of your estate. Alternatively, you can sign the document in the presence of a public notary.

The Duties of a Healthcare Proxy in Mississippi

Healthcare proxies have legal obligations that extend beyond making medical decisions for the incapacitated person. Healthcare proxies should become familiar with the individual’s medical preferences. 

If the individual has an advanced care directive in place, such as a living will or do not resuscitate order (DNR), the healthcare proxy should become familiar with the contents of these documents. Even if the healthcare agent personally disagrees with the individual’s wishes, as stated in their legal documents, he or she should advocate for the individual’s stated wishes.

Healthcare Proxies Should Communicate with Medical Providers

The healthcare proxy should serve as a liaison between the individual and his or her medical staff. It’s important to choose a healthcare proxy who isn’t afraid to ask doctors questions, seek clarification, and speak up when doctors make decisions that do not align with the individual’s medical wishes.

When the healthcare proxy needs to make a decision on behalf of the individual, he or she should become informed about the patient’s medical care. The proxy should gather relevant medical information, consult with healthcare professionals, obtain a second opinion when necessary, and carefully consider the patient’s preferences before making the decision. 

Ultimately, the healthcare proxy is responsible for advocating for the patient’s right to receive compassionate medical care that respects their autonomy, values, and personal dignity. 

When Does My Healthcare Proxy’s Authority Become Effective?

Your healthcare proxy will only have the legal authority to make decisions for you after a doctor determines that you can no longer communicate your healthcare decisions. However, you do have the option to elect for your healthcare proxy to be effective immediately. The individual instructions you include in your advanced healthcare directive will go into effect if your physician determines you can’t communicate your wishes, and you’re unconscious or you have a terminal illness. 

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Health Care Proxy Attorney in Mississippi

If you have questions or concerns about creating a healthcare proxy in Mississippi, Palmer & Slay, PLLC is here to help. We will handle your case compassionately and use our in-depth knowledge of Mississippi estate planning laws to help you name a healthcare proxy that clearly articulates your healthcare preferences. Contact Palmer & Slay, PLLC to learn more about how we can help you create a healthcare proxy and other important estate planning documents.

Palmer & Slay, PLLC, is dedicated to assisting clients within Mississippi, including Scott County, Rankin County, Brandon, Flowood, East Jackson, and beyond.