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The health care proxy: decide now for when things don't work out

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Suppose you start dementia or - worse - you end up in a coma. What then? Who pays your bills? Who will continue your business? Who manages the rental of your seaside apartment? Who makes the decision when a healthcare facility needs to be chosen? With a health care proxy, this and much more can be arranged. A health care proxy not only provides peace of mind, but has many practical benefits.  We explain using the 6 most frequently asked questions.


1 What is a health care proxy?

A care proxy is an agreement in which you act as "principal" and give power of attorney to someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf in case you can no longer do so. Think dementia or coma.  

This person is then appointed by you as agent. It is also possible to appoint multiple trustees. In most cases, mainly partners and/or children are appointed, but it is also possible to choose outside family members.   

This is not only appropriate for the smooth continuation of your business, but also in the context of succession planning. In this way, the proxy holder can even do inheritance planning in extremis, taking into account any rules imposed in advance by you.   


2 What can be arranged in a health care proxy?

The power of attorney can be broad or just limited, can relate to decisions affecting the assets or to personal (care) decisions: perform certain banking operations, perform certain actions related to the business, make the sale of a property, etc.   

The care proxy can also provide that a particular trustee (e.g., spouse) can always make decisions alone or can provide that certain key decisions must be made jointly with other trustee (e.g., children).   

In other words, you have great freedom in drawing up the modalities of your personal power of care. Therefore, drafting a proper health care proxy is legally tailored.   


3 When does it begin and end?

You can decide when the power of attorney begins and when your appointed agent may make a decision on your behalf. For example, you may still be of sound mind, but want the power of attorney to take effect anyway because you find it difficult to move around.  

In most cases it is provided that the power of attorney only starts at the moment of incapacity, in other words, when you are no longer lucid. The power of attorney may specify how this incapacity is to be determined, e.g., on the basis of medical reports prepared by two doctors. It can be stricter, it can also be less formal.  

In principle, the power of attorney is valid for the life of the principal. It can also end earlier. If you lose confidence in your principal and are still competent, you can revoke the power of attorney. The power of attorney also ends upon expiration if a limited duration was included. And also the justice of the peace has a right of revocation in case of abuse of the power of attorney.   


4 How do you draft a health care proxy?

A healthcare power of attorney is drawn up in writing. A notarized intervention is required if the agent must be able to perform notarial acts. Think of selling a house, or making a notarized donation.   

Care proxies - both private and notarized - are registered by the notary in the Central Register of Powers of Attorney. Thus, any notary in Belgium can easily find out if a care proxy exists for a particular person. Without this registration, the power of attorney will have no effect.   

At the time of signing the care proxy, you must be legally competent and therefore of sound mind. Those who notice the first signs of incipient dementia, but are still mostly lucid, can in principle still arrange a power of attorney, but it is best not to wait too long. 


5 What if I do not have a health care proxy?

If you do not make arrangements in advance in case you become incapacitated and certain decisions suddenly have to be made, then, after a legal procedure, the justice of the peace will place you under the administration of whomever the judge deems appropriate: often a family member, but in case of disagreement this can also be, for example, a lawyer. The trustee must then decide whether or not a decision can be taken, under the supervision of the justice of the peace.  

With a customized healthcare power of attorney, however, you determine who gets to manage your affairs and the terms and conditions involved.   


6 What can we support you in?

A health care proxy means customization. It needs to be drawn up in a broader context. Our Titeca Pro Experts ensure that the content of your power of attorney is fully in line with your (asset) planning and that the continuity of your company (companies) is guaranteed.  


Do not hesitate to contact us here contact us with questions.

Would you like a conversation about the right approach for your business?  Then make an appointment here with our pro experts!