If you ever become unable to tell your doctor what type of medical care you want, medical decisions can be made by estranged family members, a team of doctors or a New Jersey judge. These individuals may know little to nothing about the type of medical care you prefer. The state allows you to make your wishes known via a living will, also called a proxy directive. A living will gives you the right to list a trusted family member or friend to make decisions about your healthcare when you are unable to do so because of advanced age, illness or an accident.
You can also create a second legal document outlining your wishes on the type of medical treatment you want to receive in certain situations such as in the event you need life support. This is called an instruction directive. When you need to make a living will, proxy directive or instruction directive, speak with a living will attorney. Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith has decades of legal experience helping clients prepare for any medical situation that arises.
Choosing a Healthcare Representative in NJ
In New Jersey, you can choose anyone to be your healthcare representative to make medical decisions for you, including a relative, spouse, partner, close friend or sibling. However, the state has two requirements that can exclude potential representatives such as:
- Anyone under the age of 18
- An individual who is an employee, operator or administrator of a health care institution where you are a resident or patient.
If the administrator, employee or operator of the healthcare institution is related to you by marriage, blood, adoption or domestic partnership, the he or she can be your health care representative. For example, if you live in a nursing home and your daughter is an employee of the nursing home, New Jersey allows you to pick her as a healthcare representative. However, if you have a trusted friend who is an employee of the nursing home, he or she is ineligible to act as your representative.
Choosing a healthcare representative takes a lot of thought. Not only does the individual have to be dependable and trustworthy, that person must know what type of care you would want. While you do not have to pick someone who lives in New Jersey, the person must be willing to travel to the state to be involved in your care.
Also consider the authority the individual has as your healthcare representative, such as:
- Making all healthcare decisions for you
- Refusing medical treatment for you
- Looking at your medical records
- Receiving information about you such as prognosis, condition and treatment options
You have the option to limit the decision-making authority your healthcare representative has. You can prohibit sustained treatment, such as feeding tubes, respirators, when it conflicts with your religious beliefs or preferences. Regardless of whom you pick, Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith will assist you in creating your living will.