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The Power to Revoke a Healthcare Proxy

For the past year I’ve worked with a client that a hospital alleged was incapacitated and needed someone to make medical decisions for him. The client had signed a healthcare proxy two years prior, naming a family member as proxy. However, in those two years that relationship had soured, and the client no longer felt comfortable with that person making medical decisions on his behalf.

The choice of whom you choose to make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated is a personal one, and one that I often flesh out with my clients when we sit down to write a healthcare proxy. I will address the benefits of having a proxy versus not having one in another blog.

In a case where a proxy has been chosen that the client no longer wants, the client can revoke that healthcare proxy. In Massachusetts they do that by notifying the agent or healthcare provider, orally, in writing or by any other act evidencing a specific intent to revoke, that they are revoking the proxy.

It becomes complicated in a case like this one when an allegation of incapacity has already been made. Here, the Court had already appointed a temporary guardian to my client, which assumes the client is incapacitated and no longer has the capacity to make medical decisions, and cannot assign or a revoke a proxy.

It took several court dates, negotiations with the existing proxy and temporary guardian, and a lot of hard work by my client to prove that he had capacity, but eventually he was found able to make his own medical decisions. With that, the guardianship went away, and we immediately revoked his healthcare proxy in writing to both his proxy and his healthcare providers.

Not only is it important to have a healthcare proxy in place, but it’s also important to revisit that decision, to make sure you are still comfortable with your choice. Please call me to discuss drafting your updated proxy.

  • 18 May, 2014
  • Jason Prokowiew

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