Table of Contents
What Is A Healthcare Proxy and Advance Directive?
In the state of New Jersey, individuals have the right to make decisions about their healthcare through an advance directive and a healthcare proxy. These legal documents allow individuals to specify their medical preferences, ensuring their wishes are respected, even if they become unable to communicate or make decisions.
Here we will go through some of the key provisions of New Jersey’s regulations governing advance directives and healthcare proxies. We hope this can help you and your loved ones understand and plan for the future. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Advance Directive Execution (26:2h-56):
New Jersey law allows individuals (declarants) to execute an advance directive for healthcare at any time. The document must be signed and dated in the presence of two adult witnesses who attest to the declarant’s sound mind and freedom from duress. Alternatively, the directive can be notarized, and it may also include audio or video recordings. Specific provisions apply to female declarants regarding pregnancy-related instructions.
Reaffirmation, Modification, And Revocation (26:2h-57):
Declarants can reaffirm, modify, or revoke their advance directives. Revocation can be done through notification or by executing a subsequent directive. Various conditions, such as divorce or legal separation, trigger automatic revocation of a spouse’s designation as a healthcare representative.
Designation Of Healthcare Representative (26:2h-58):
Declarants can designate a healthcare representative, excluding certain individuals associated with healthcare institutions. Alternate representatives can be appointed, and limitations on authority, especially pertaining to pregnancy, can be specified.
Operative Conditions (26:2h-59):
An advance directive becomes operative when transmitted to the attending physician or healthcare institution, and it is determined that the patient lacks the capacity to make a specific healthcare decision. Treatment decisions require a reasonable opportunity for diagnosis and prognosis confirmation.
Determination Of Patient’s Capacity (26:2h-60):
The attending physician assesses the patient’s decision-making capacity, which may be confirmed by other physicians. Specialized training is required if the incapacity is due to mental or psychological conditions. Patients are informed of the determination and their right to contest it.
Authority To Make Healthcare Decisions (26:2h-61):
If a patient lacks decision-making capacity, a healthcare representative, designated in the advance directive, has the authority to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. The representative must act in good faith, keeping the patient’s best interests in mind.
Rights And Responsibilities Of Healthcare Professionals (26:2h-62):
Healthcare professionals have specific rights and responsibilities, including making inquiries about the existence of an advance directive, noting its presence in medical records, and respecting the right of professionals to decline participation based on personal or professional convictions.
Decision Making Under An Advance Directive (26:2h-63):
The attending physician, healthcare representative, and additional physicians discuss the patient’s medical condition and treatment options. The healthcare representative prioritizes the patient’s wishes, seeking to make decisions in line with the patient’s intent.
Effect Of Instruction Directive (26:2h-64):
If a patient has an instruction directive but no designated representative, or if the representative is unavailable, the directive is legally operative. Clear and unambiguous directives are honored, while less specific ones may be interpreted in consultation with the attending physician.
Additional Rights And Responsibilities Of Healthcare Institutions (26:2h-65):
Healthcare institutions have rights and responsibilities, including routine inquiry about advance directives, providing informational materials, educating patients and families, establishing dispute resolution procedures, and respecting the rights of healthcare professionals.
Resolution Of Disagreements (26:2h-66):
Disagreements among patients, healthcare representatives, and attending physicians can be resolved through institutional procedures, consultation with an ethics committee, or legal means.
Circumstances For Withholding Or Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment (26:2h-67):
Life-sustaining treatment may be withheld or withdrawn in specific circumstances, such as experimental or futile treatment, permanent unconsciousness, terminal condition, or a serious irreversible illness where risks outweigh benefits.
Understanding New Jersey’s advance directives and healthcare proxies rules helps individuals to plan ahead and ensure their healthcare preferences are respected. These legal instruments allow individuals to make decisions about their medical care, even when they are unable to communicate or decide for themselves. By familiarizing yourself with the regulations outlined in New Jersey law, you can take control of your healthcare and estate planning journey and provide clear guidance for your loved ones and healthcare professionals. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help plan you or your loved one’s estate.