Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Lawyers Assisting Individuals In Establishing Health Care Advocates
Under Massachusetts law, a health care proxy is a legal document and is considered comparable to medical power of attorney. However, an individual who acts as a health care proxy only has legal authority related to making medical decisions.
A health care proxy is vital in the event you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself. A health care proxy can be any person that you choose, such as a family member or close friend. Having a predetermined health care proxy in place can mean the difference between family members being able to find out about your medical condition should you be unable to communicate for yourself or being kept in the dark, wondering if you are being properly cared for.
Who is Eligible to be a Health Care Proxy in Massachusetts?
Many individuals mistakenly believe that because they are a spouse or close family member, they will have the legal ability to make medical decisions on behalf of their loved ones, no matter the circumstances.
However, this is not always the case.
Health care providers must follow strict HIPPA laws that outline who may make decisions or even receive information about a patient’s condition. Nonetheless, with planning, any competent adult 18 years of age and older can appoint their health care agent by filling out and signing what is known as a health care proxy form.
This form will allow you to assign your health care agent to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so on your own.
Be certain to choose an individual whom you can trust, who will listen to your desires regarding your care, and who will agree to the decisions that you have specified. If you are working with an attorney on devising an estate plan, many of these issues can be worked out beforehand.
Does an Individual Need a Designated Health Care Proxy if They are in a Nursing Home?
If your family member is in a health care facility and is terminally ill, mentally ill, experiencing diminished mental capacity, or has certain religious beliefs that they want to be upheld, it is essential that they have a healthcare proxy in place.
Often, patients in long-term care become incapacitated to the point that they are unable to make decisions for themselves related to their treatment or other medical care.
If you have been appointed as a health care proxy, you have full authority to make determinations under the statutes outlined in the Massachusetts health care proxy law. Having a health care proxy document does not allow you, however, to make financial decisions.
Is a Healthcare Proxy Better Than a Living Will in Massachusetts?
The state of Massachusetts does not recognize living wills that outline specific circumstances in which life support or other measures should be discontinued for a patient who is terminally ill. However, an individual who is acting as a health care agent is legally permitted to make those decisions.
For this particular reason, is it recommended an individual compose a living will that gives precise details as to the type of circumstances in which they would like treatment that prolongs their life, thus directing the healthcare proxy in decision making.
Stating treatment preferences in a living will is highly beneficial to the individual who you choose as your health care proxy. Outlining your wishes ahead of time, such as the desire for comfort care, takes significant pressure off of them when having to make treatment decisions.
Do I Need to Have an Attorney to Designate a Healthcare Proxy?
While it is not a legal requirement that you have an attorney assist you in assigning an agent to be your health care proxy, it is always best to consult with an attorney about potential life-altering decisions.
As people become older and experience more medical issues, they begin to understand the need to establish a health care agent to make decisions related to their medical care, life-sustaining treatments, or other medical treatments related to their conditions.