A health care proxy is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint someone to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are incapacitated. It is similar to a Durable Power of Attorney in that it allows the delegation of decision making. Health care proxies are an essential tool for ensuring that an individual’s medical decisions are respected and carried out in accordance with their wishes. In Massachusetts, health care proxies are regulated by M.G.L. Ch. 201D. The Statute is designed to ensure that individuals receive prompt medical treatment that aligns with their values and beliefs, even if they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
What is a Health Care Proxy?
A health care proxy is a written document in which an individual designates another person, an “agent,” to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. The individual executing the proxy is referred to as the principal. The principal must be 18 years of age or older and competent at the time of execution. The agent may be a family member, a friend, or any other person the principal trusts to act in their best interests. Two disinterested and unrelated people must witness the principal’s signature and it must be notarized.
Why is a Health Care Proxy in MA Important?
Health care proxies are important because they allow individuals to take control of their medical decision-making and ensure that their wishes are respected. Without a health care proxy, medical decisions may be made by healthcare providers or family members, who may not have a clear understanding of the individual’s preferences or values. By having a health care proxy in place, an individual can ensure that their medical decisions are made in accordance with their own values and beliefs, even if they are unable to communicate those decisions themselves.
Revoking a Healthcare Proxy
You can revoke a health care proxy at anytime. The revocation must be in writing, and you must communicate your revocation to the proxy and any healthcare providers who have a copy of the healthcare proxy.
What if I Don't Have a Health Care Proxy?
If someone does not have a health care proxy, their medical decisions may be made by a family member or healthcare provider, or the probate court may appoint a guardian to make those decisions. This process can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can also result in decisions being made that are not in accordance with the individual’s wishes. In addition, without a health care proxy, the individual’s right to self-determination may be overridden, and they may be subjected to medical treatments or procedures that they would not have wanted.
In conclusion, Massachusetts health care proxies are an essential estate planning tool for ensuring that your medical decisions are respected and carried out in accordance with your wishes. By understanding the purpose and importance of health care proxies, you can take control of your medical decision-making and ensure that your rights and preferences are protected. Contact our will, trust, and estate planning lawyers today if we can help you with your estate planning needs.