Planning for the Future with an Advance Directive for Health Care – PART 1

All this month Nobles & Sigman will be talking about why you need an Advance Directive for Health Care and how to draft one that complies with Massachusetts law. In this first article, we will explain how a living will is different from a Massachusetts health care proxy and suggest what to look for in a health care agent. In part two, to be published later this month, we will be busting some myths that might keep you from proper health care planning. Terminology Matters: What is an Advance Directive?   An Advance Directive is the blanket term for a legally enforceable document that allows you to control how medical decisions will be made on your behalf if a doctor determines, through specific medical criteria, that you are unable to make your own decisions. This is referred to as being “incapacitated,” and it can be a temporary situation where you are expected to recover, or a permanent condition, from which recovery is unlikely. Without an Advance Directive, your doctor may be required to provide you with medical treatment that you would have otherwise refused. The good news is, it is relatively easy to write or to change an Advance Directive. The law presumes that all adults are competent to make and to revoke an Advance Directive, so any adult over 18 may write one. Depending on your state law, an Advance Directive may contain two elements: (1) a living will and (2) a health care proxy (HCP). (We

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