Metro Boston Advance Directives Lawyer
Valuable Health Care Documents From Your Norwood Estate Planning Professionals
Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to communicate your wishes regarding the management of your health care and to authorize others to make medical decisions on your behalf. Advance directives are essential because you never know when you could become incapacitated due to accident, injury or illness and unable to make or communicate healthcare decisions for yourself. At Fisher Law LLC we take the time to discuss these sensitive matters with you and draft the right set of health care documents to ensure your health care will be managed according to your wishes, even if you can’t communicate those wishes due to a period of incapacity. Call a Boston advance directives lawyer at Fisher Law in Norwood to make sure your estate plan fully protects you and includes a complete and up-to-date set of advance directives.
Health Care Proxy
The primary advance directive for health care in Massachusetts is known as a health care proxy. With this document, you appoint a health care agent to make medical decisions on your behalf whenever it is determined that you are incapable of making these decisions for yourself.
The health care proxy identifies the principal (you) and the agent who will hold the proxy and have the authority to act on your behalf. The health care proxy will make it clear that the principal intends the agent to have this authority and also describe any limitations the principal wants to place on the agent regarding that authority. The health care proxy will also express that this authority only becomes effective if the principal becomes incapacitated.
Absent any limitations placed on the agent’s authority, the agent will be able to make all health care decisions for the principal, including whether to provide or withhold life-sustaining treatment. Your proxy can also designate an alternate agent if your first choice of a designated agent is unavailable, unwilling or unable to serve as your agent. This is a good idea but not required to complete a valid health care proxy in Massachusetts.
The agent with the power to exercise a health care proxy doesn’t simply make medical decisions out of the blue. The agent is expected to consult with your doctors and health care providers and make informed decisions on that basis. Your agent has the right to receive all medical information necessary to make a decision, including information that would otherwise be confidential medical information.
Medical providers are bound to comply with the terms of a health care proxy, and the holder of a health care proxy takes precedence over someone else with a power of attorney, which is a more general tool authorizing a person to act on your behalf. Without a health care proxy, a medical provider can rely on the informed consent of responsible parties acting on your behalf, but this situation can lead to confusion and damaged relationships when different family members have different ideas about your health care and are each asserting their authority to the doctor or hospital. Avoid unnecessary drama and even legal battles in court by creating a health care proxy and designating the person you trust most to make medical decisions on your behalf.
To be valid, a health care proxy must be in writing and signed by you in the presence of witnesses. You must be 18 years old and of sound mind to execute a health care proxy, and it must be created voluntarily, without any coercion or undue influence from another party. The best time to create a health care proxy is while you are mentally in good shape and not relying on a caregiver for support. But regardless of whatever stage of life you are at, if you do not have a health care proxy included in your estate planning documents, call Fisher Law in Norwood for practical advice and immediate assistance.
While a health care proxy can authorize an agent to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment, you can make your wishes in this area even clearer by establishing a living will. A living will is used for the specific purpose of expressing your wishes to accept or refuse medical treatment, including treatment that might extend your life when you are unconscious or have a terminal condition. The living will can also express your preferences regarding palliative care or hospice care.
Hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) in Massachusetts currently recognize a MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) as well as a Comfort Care/Do Not Resuscitate Order (CC/DNR). If you have a MOLST, you don’t need a CC/DNR, but a CC/DNR is still valid if you already have one. If you don’t have either or wish to review and possibly update these important documents, call Fisher Law in Norwood to discuss your needs and desires.
Health Care Documents for Personal Protection and Peace of Mind
For help with advance directives as part of your comprehensive estate plan, contact Fisher Law LLC to review your needs with a caring and professional Norwood estate planning lawyer.