Can I Revoke a Medical Proxy?


When you appoint a medical proxy or a health care proxy, that person is bestowed with the medical power of attorney. This means that they will have the authority for decision-making on medical matters for you if you are not able to make your own medical decisions. You may appoint your spouse, a close friend, a family member, or even a lawyer as your health care proxy. 

If circumstances arise where your health care proxy is no longer a suitable candidate to act as your agent, then you can revoke their status as your health care agent.

What is a Medical Proxy / Health Care Proxy?

If you are in a situation where you are unable to make your own health care decisions, then your health care proxy will make those  medical decisions on your behalf. The person you choose to be your proxy will be known as your health care agent, and will be responsible for decisions that you would have made – had you been able to. 

They will only be responsible for the decisions about your medical treatment. The responsibility of financial decisions such as paying your medical bills or insurance settlements will fall on the person you give  durable power of attorney.

Your health care agent’s medical power of attorney comes into effect only when you are indisposed. Your agent’s authority only comes into consideration if you cannot make your medical decisions yourself – either temporarily or for a longer period of time. 

If you are undergoing surgery and will be under the influence of anesthesia, your agent will have the power of attorney only during the time you are unconscious. On the other hand, if you are struggling with a long-term health crisis  such as a terminal illness or a degenerative illness, then your health care proxy will have to make decisions on the following issues:

  • The health care professionals who will be responsible for your medical treatment. 

  • The health care facility that will provide your medical treatment.

  • If and when you can get surgery. 

  • The drug treatments  and medical treatments that will be administered to you.

  • Whether they should choose a life-prolonging treatment (including dialysis, ventilators, etc.) or palliative care.

  • If you have a degenerative disease or brain damage – how it should be treated. 

  • Your end-of-life care and administering life-sustaining treatments (artificial hydration, artificial nutrition, and using feeding tubes).

  • If you are in a coma, they make the decision of whether to keep you on life support

Any adult over 18 years old can be your medical proxy, barring certain exceptions. Your physician/health care provider, their employees, and your nursing home’s administrator/health care provider/employee cannot be your health care proxy. 

Along with a health care proxy, you may also create an advance directive or a living will that allows you to state your health care wishes in the event that you become unable to communicate your medical decisions. 

Reasons To Revoke a Health Care Proxy

Your health care proxy will be responsible for making crucial medical decisions on your behalf, so they should be appointed only after careful consideration. Since they will be making the decision on whether to administer life-prolonging treatments, they should be the right person to be your agent under your current circumstances. If they are no longer the right person, then you can revoke their authority to be your health care proxy. 

Some common reasons why the revocation of health care proxy occurs are :

  • The appointed health care proxy is no longer in the picture – There can be many reasons why your agent is no longer in the picture. It could be a falling out, a legal separation or divorce, they passed away unexpectedly, or are no longer able to execute their duties as a health care proxy.

  • The health care proxy you appointed is no longer suitable – If your health care proxy themselves have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or degenerative illness, they might no longer be able to be your health care agent.

  • Your agent is no longer comfortable being your health care proxy – If the person you appointed no longer wants to be your health care proxy, then you can revoke their status as your agent and appoint a new proxy. 

How Do I Revoke a Medical Proxy / Health Care Proxy?

If you are interested in revoking a health care proxy, you can do so in the following ways:

  • A competent adult (over 18 years old and of sound mind) can revoke their medical proxy by informing their health care agent/ health care provider about the revocation orally or in writing.

  • If you appoint another health care proxy at a later date, then the new proxy will take the place of the old one. 

  • If your spouse were your health care proxy, and you are either separated or divorced, then their status as your proxy will be revoked unless you specify otherwise.

  • If you act in a manner that implies that you plan to revoke your proxy – such as tell other people about your intention to revoke.

If you, the principal, inform your attending physician or your health care provider that you intend to revoke your medical proxy, then they can take the following steps:

  • Note down that you have revoked your health care proxy in the principal’s medical records.

  • Let the health care agent and the medical professionals involved in the principal’s care know about the revocation. 

If you happen to let any other staff member know about the revocation, they can let your attending physician know.

Appointing or revoking a health care proxy is an essential part of your estate planning, and should be a part of your end-of-life checklist. To learn more about how you can better plan all the matters concerning your end-of-life care – reach out to Uplife, and we can help you out.

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Q: Are health care proxy forms legally binding?

A: Yes, in states other than Massachusetts, health care proxy forms are legally binding. 

Q: Can I appoint more than one health care proxy?

A: Yes, you may appoint an alternate agent. If you revoke the proxy status of your primary agent, then your alternate agent can become your proxy.

Q: Will my attending physician be able to override my agent’s decisions?

A: No, you or your agent will have the final say in your medical care.

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