In Massachusetts, a health care proxy operates very much like a power of attorney, but it is only for health care decisions.
It allows you to designate a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. Having a health care proxy in place is especially important due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) privacy laws that could prevent family members from even receiving information about your condition if you don’t have a health care proxy in place. The Botelho Law Group is a top estate planning attorney in Fall River, Massachusetts that’s helped many people draft and execute a health care proxy. Call (888) 269-0988 to schedule a free confidential consultation.
Health Care Proxy Laws in Massachusetts
Massachusetts law protects an individual’s right to determine their medical care after incapacity by allowing the appointment of an agent to act on their behalf. Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.) c. 201D permits virtually any competent person over the age of 18 to serve as a health care agent for an individual, called a “principal” under this law. The exception is that any person that is an employee, operator or administrator of a residential long term care facility, unless that person is also a relative of the principal by blood, adoption or marriage.
Health Care Proxy vs. Living Will
Massachusetts law does not honor living wills that specify under what circumstances life support and/or nutrition should be withdrawn for a terminally ill patient, but an agent with a health care proxy can make those decisions. This is why it’s beneficial to write a living will that specifies under what circumstances you would want life prolonging treatment, so that your health care proxy can use it as a guide. This will take the pressure off of the individual you choose to make these decisions on their own. The experienced and caring health care proxy attorneys at the Botelho Law Group can help you draft documents that express your wishes clearly. Call (888) 269-0988 to schedule a free confidential consultation.
What Triggers Your Health Care Proxy?
The health care proxy is triggered by a doctor’s certification, in writing, that you do not have the capacity, either permanently or temporarily, to make your own health care decisions. Once the health care proxy is triggered, the agent will have access to all of your medical information and will be able to speak to your doctors about your condition and the proposed treatments and medication. Your agent will be able to get second and third opinions, change your care facility and make any other decisions that would be made if you were able to. If you regain your capacity, such as being taken out of a medically induced coma, you will be able to resume making your own decisions. It’s important to know that under Massachusetts law, even after a health care proxy is triggered with a doctor’s certification of lack of capacity, your wishes will still take precedence over your agent if you are able to communicate. The Botelho Law Group is a top estate planning attorney in Fall River, Massachusetts that will patiently answer all of your questions. Call (888) 269-0988 to schedule a free confidential consultation.
How To Revoke A Health Care Proxy
It’s important to periodically review your health care proxy, along with all of your other estate planning documents, to ensure that they are still aligned with your wishes. You can revoke your health care proxy at any time in the following ways: ,
- You sign another health care proxy;
- Your agent for your health care proxy was your spouse, and you’ve legally divorced;
- You notify your agent orally in writing that you are revoking the health care proxy;
- You do something to show that you’ve decided to revoke the health care proxy such as tearing it up or telling people in the community that you’ve ended it.
Massachusetts law will honor any of the above methods, but some of them are hard to prove such as oral communication of revocation or telling other people that you’d like it revoked. It’s important to be aware that if your spouse is your agent, the health care proxy will only be revoked when a divorce is final. If you don’t want the spouse you’re battling in a contentious divorce proceeding to be your agent, you should sign another health care proxy with somebody else as your agent.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island Health Care Proxy Attorney
It is wise for people of all ages to have a health care proxy in place in case they are unable to direct their health care due to an accident or illness. The Botelho Law Group is a top estate planning attorney in Fall River Massachusetts. Call (888) 269-0988 to schedule a free confidential consultation.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723