Are You in Charge of You? Important Changes to New York State’s Health Care Proxy Law

November 29, 2023 | Wendy Hoey Sheinberg | Trusts & Estates

As of November 2023, having a valid Health Care Proxy became easier for New Yorkers. A Health Care Proxy allows a competent adult to appoint an agent to make health care choices for them if they lose the ability to make those decisions for themselves. Two adults who are not appointed in the document must witness the signing of the Health Care Proxy for it to be valid.[1]

The use of remote witnessing with audio-visual technology (remote witnessing) was permitted during the COVID-19 public health emergency, but a permanent change required legislative action. Bills were proposed in 2021 to make remote witnessing permanent. The Bill for permanent remote witnessing passed with only two Nay votes and was signed into law on November 17, 2023.

Permanent remote witnessing means that those serving as witnesses are legally permitted to do so even if they are unable to travel, or if the person signing the health care proxy is not allowed to have visitors. Remote witnessing is a big help to people who are isolated due to location or distance or who are signing a health care proxy during an illness.

A health care proxy helps to ensure that your wishes will guide decisions made for you when you are no longer able to make them. Meet with an experienced elder law attorney to create a comprehensive long-term care plan, including a health care proxy. If you have an existing long-term care plan, you should review it with your elder law attorney periodically to ensure that it still meets your needs and to make the necessary adjustments to keep you in charge of you.

[1] There are additional rules for people who reside in certain facilities.

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