A health care proxy and a living will are both directives used by individuals to control the medical treatment they receive in the event that they become incapable of making or communicating health care decisions in the future. Even though a Living Will is NOT legally enforceable in Massachusetts it is still a good document to have in your estate plan.
Here are five reasons why you should have a valid living will:
Massachusetts gives explicit recognition and protections only to health care proxies. So why should you have a Living Will in Massachusetts? Your Health Care Agent has the ultimate authority regarding end of life care, but a living will is a good source of guidance for your family, doctors and your Health Care Agent.
A living will sets for the specific written instructions that you have regarding your treatment preferences in various hypothetical medical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.
If a disagreement occurs among your family members while you are incapacitated over what the right medical decisions are for you, the person who has the authority to make your health care decisions can use the Living Will as evidence to support their decisions.
The Living Will is your own expression of your attitudes and wishes about your health care that was executed while you were competent. It is sometime called a Personal Wishes Statement.
Even though there is no legal significance to the Living Will, most physicians will follow the directions you state in the document. This is especially true if you have taken the time to discuss your wishes and desires with your primary care physician before an emergency situation arises.
Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:
E.M. Curran & Associates LLC