What is a health care representative?

Connecticut permits an adult to appoint a health care representative.  Although Connecticut law uses the term “health care representative,” this type of appointment is also known by other names that you may have heard, including “health care proxy” or “health care power of attorney.” 

By appointing someone as your health care representative, you’re giving that person the legal authority to make medical decisions for you if your doctor determines that you cannot make those decisions for yourself.  There are two reasons why you may not be able to make those decisions for yourself:  (1) you’re not able to understand or appreciate the nature and consequences of health care decisions; or (2) you’re not able to reach and communicate informed decisions about your health care. 

If called upon to make medical decisions for you, your health care representative will be able to exercise significant control of your care as he or she will have the power to decide whether to consent to or refuse any treatment, service or procedure.  Subject to your living will, this includes the power to decide whether to provide or withhold life support systems.  Because of the significant authority your health care representative will have over your medical care, it’s important to appoint someone you trust that knows you, your values, and your beliefs.  It is also a good idea to appoint a backup health care representative that can make decisions for you if your primary health care representative is unavailable for any reason at the time any medical decisions need to be made. 

Connecticut law allows you to prepare a single document that combines multiple estate planning tools concerning health care.  For more information about this document, click here.