A “living will,” also known as an “advance health care directive,” is a legal document that sets forth your wishes for medical interventions should you become terminally ill and incapacitated.
A living will is completely different from a “last will and testament,” and does not direct how your assets are distributed. A living will can guide your medical treatment based on your ethical or religious beliefs, helping those you have entrusted with making those important decisions. The most important part of a living will is specifying the circumstances when life-prolonging treatments should be used. The help of a caring and patient Fall River, Massachusetts living attorney can help you develop a living will guide your loved ones through a difficult time. The Botelho Law Group is a top estate planning attorney in Fall River Massachusetts. Call (888) 269-0988 to schedule a free confidential consultation.
Are Living Wills Binding in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, living wills are not binding, but are used to guide the person appointed in your “health care proxy” to make medical decisions on your behalf. In jurisdictions where they are binding, a living will is triggered when a physician must certifies that you are:
- Physically or mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes and
- you have a terminal disease at end stage with limited life span and
- you have virtually no chance of recovery.
Despite the fact that they are not binding in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Medical Society recommends them, believing that they are helpful to medical providers and proxies that will be making these important decisions. Even in states where living wills are binding, there is no need to file them with the court, but having your signature notarized gives weight to your wishes. Proper execution of your living will could also become useful if you are incapacitiated in an accident in a state where living wills are binding. It’s important to note that although living wills are not binding in Massachusetts, health care proxies are legally enforceable and can incorporate many of the same provisions.
How To Draft A Living Will?
The best place to start is to discuss with your spouse and children how you would like your medical care handled if you are terminally ill and incapacitated. These are the three most important considerations:
- Life-Prolonging Treatment: You can specify exactly which treatments such as CPR, blood transfusions, diagnostic tests, dialysis, drugs, respirators and surgery should be used and under what circumstances;
- Nutrition and Hydration: Some permanently unconscious persons can remain alive indefinitely when supplied with intravenous nutrition and hydration, and you can decide under what circumstances you would want it cut off, and
- Palliative Care: You can decide under what circumstances your care switches from life-prolonging treatments to pain medication that reduces your discomfort, but may shorten your life.
These are difficult issues to confront, but it’s well worth the effort due to the peace of mind your loved ones gain during this difficult time. An experienced and caring Fall River, Massachusetts living will attorney can help you draft a document that gives you and your loved ones a roadmap of your wishes.
Where Should I Keep My Living Will?
Unlike a regular will, which is held by your attorney, it’s a good idea to distribute your living will to anybody that might be likely to need it after an accident or sudden illness. In addition to whoever you’ve chosen as your healthcare proxy, your spouse, significant other, parents, adult children, and medical providers should have a copy. The document is only useful if the healthcare providers treating you have access to it. It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to keep their living will, health care proxy and other important documents that might be needed if they’re incapacitated, in a “dropbox” or another type of cloud storage. With this system, you can provide your loved ones and healthcare providers with a link and a password to access the documents. If you are no longer on good terms with somebody, you can change the password and lock them out.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island Living Will Attorney
Even though living wills are not binding in Massachusetts, they are still a beneficial part of an estate plan. A living will is only as good as the way it’s drafted, so it’s important to work with a Fall River, Massachusetts living will attorney with the experience and know-how to help you draft a helpful document. The Botelho Law Group is the most well-respected estate planning firm 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