In Massachusetts, health care proxies and durable powers of attorney combine to form advance directives. The purpose is simple and the benefits are many.
If you become ill, injured in an accident or are advanced in age, it’s crucial there be legal documents in place that will provide definitive directions on what you want in terms of medical treatments, who you trust to make decisions for you – including medical and financial decisions and frankly, who you believe has no ulterior motives. In most instances, it’s a family member, but it’s not required. You can name anyone you choose to become your voice if necessary.
Advance Directives in Beverly Massachusetts
Typically, a durable power of attorney for health and a proxy are strongly encouraged by estate planning lawyers in Massachusetts.
The first document, the durable power of attorney for health is simply your wishes, memorialized on paper, of who you want to make healthcare choices in the event your voice is silenced; again, either by an illness or accident.
Your health care proxy is important and works seamlessly with your durable power of attorney. It provides detailed information on what types of medical treatments you do or do not want to receive. When the two documents are properly prepared, they are known as an advance directive.
Your estate planning or elder care lawyer will go over your decisions on whom you wish to name as your agent (the one you trust to make those difficult choices). While many choose their spouse, others choose another relative or a close friend. In New Hampshire, there are laws that prevent certain people from filling this role. You may not name your physician or any other health care provider who’s caring for you (unless that person is related to you) or any employee of a residential care provider – such as a nursing home – unless, again, that person is related to you.
Your lawyer will encourage you to choose someone who is dependable and loyal. He will remind you that human nature plays a powerful role in anyone’s decision making process, so he will also encourage you to choose someone less likely to have any kind of ulterior motive. Since family dynamics are unpredictable, you’ll want to ensure this person doesn’t cave under pressure.
As estate planning attorneys, we’ve seen one person having to stand up against an entire family. Because this person was committed to doing the right thing and honoring the wishes of the one he was tasked with, he managed the entire family with common sense, compassion and patience. While he understood the choices were difficult, he knew it was the right thing to do. More importantly, our client knew this was the right person as well. It made our job easier as we went about the business of protecting our client from a legal standpoint while the agent protected our client from a more emotional – and in some ways, a more difficult – perspective.
Remember, the person you choose must understand he may have to make the most difficult of all decisions. It’s a big responsibility, but an important one. After all, if you’ve taken the time to carefully weigh your options, you want the one you choose to be able to honor it without it being an overwhelming responsibility.
Finally, you’ll want to also carefully consider your options when it comes to choosing a legal firm as your partner. You want to know your estate planning is in experienced hands and with a team that is current on the ever changing laws. We stand ready to meet those challenges and look forward to hearing your questions.