Because my opinion is that the living will appears to be valid, see pages 8-9 of
and if the doctors determined that he was terminal they were allowed to follow his instruction as stated in the living will regardless of whether or not there was a health care proxy.
The standard health care proxy form states:
"Your health care agent would begin to make health care decisions after your doctor decides that you are not able to make your own health care decisions."
PBH 2983 is a general law that applies even when there is no living will as long as there is a health care proxy or agent. Aside from any issue of the authority of the proxy, I do not see how the doctors can be faulted for complying with the wishes of their patient as expressed in the living will you showed me. He wrote he did not want to be kept alive by artificial means and if that was all that was keeping him alive, the doctors had the right to discontinue them.
2983 only requires one signature and a consultation with another MD:
"1. Determination by attending physician. (a) A determination that a principal lacks capacity to make health care decisions shall be made by the attending physician to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. The determination shall be made in writing and shall contain such attending physician's opinion regarding the cause and nature of the principal's incapacity as well as its extent and probable duration. The determination shall be included in the patient's medical record. For a decision to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment, the attending physician who makes the determination that a principal lacks capacity to make health care decisions must consult with another physician to confirm such determination. Such consultation shall also be included within the patient's medical record."
You wrote: "My brother, even as health care proxy, had, again, in my opinion, no right to stop treatment until that letter was signed." I agree that you are correct about that, but the doctors may have acted legally based on the living will and not the instructions of the health care proxy. I am not sure why they did what they did and I could not even try to determine that without seeing the medical records.
If you file a probate case and get the Court to appoint you as administrator or executor, you can get the medical records and see if the doctors complied with the requirements of 2983, or if the decision was just based on the living will.
You can get a free consultation from some of the NY probate attorneys listed by location here.
Please follow up on this with a local attorney.
I hope this information is helpful, and I am sorry for your loss.