Living Without a Healthcare Proxy: A Risk to Avoid

Your Life, Your Way
Healthcare decisions are among the most personal, and most consequential, any of us can make. For many of us, there may come a time when old age, illness, or injury will prevent us from voicing our wishes and concerns about what we prefer for our bodies, or even how we prefer to spend the remainder of our lives.

In light of this, everyone needs to make provision, in writing, for someone else to be authorized to make these decisions for them. In Massachusetts, the only recognized legal vehicle by which to do this is by granting durable power of attorney, also called a healthcare proxy.

Massachusetts: The Odd Commonwealth Out
When it comes to medical and end-of-life decisions, the law in Massachusetts is unusual when compared with the other forty-nine states and commonwealths that make up the U.S.

Massachusetts does not recognize living wills, also called advance directives. These are documents that specify your preferences for medical care in advance of a situation in which you are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to speak or signal on your behalf.

Nor does Massachusetts automatically assign responsibility for healthcare decisions to your spouse or family members.

The only way to make your wishes clear and enforceable is by granting, in writing, durable power of attorney to a trusted person who is committed to carrying out your wishes. This person is also called a healthcare proxy.

What If There Is No Proxy?
Where no healthcare proxy is named, at least not in writing, the situation for you and your loved ones is fairly distressing. Your loved ones will have to go to court in order to establish the authority to make medical decisions for you, spending time contacting attorneys and filing forms with the court that they could have instead spent by your side. This is before mentioning the cost and stress added to a medical crisis, which is already costly and stressful for all involved.

In the time it takes to establish legal authority to make healthcare decisions, you may have lost valuable treatment time that could have obtained a more favorable outcome, or even worse.

Prepare Today and Relax About Tomorrow
Our experienced estate law attorneys can help you assign durable power of attorney and handle all other parts of a comprehensive and personalized estate plan. Call our office to get peace of mind.

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