FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A HEALTH CARE PROXY?

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A Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name anyone eighteen and older who you TRUST to be your Health Care Agent. This person will make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions for yourself.

You may revoke your Health Care Proxy at any time simply by informing your Agent or your health care provider that you want to do so. However, it is always to put this in writing so there is proof that your named Health Care Agent no longer has the authority. You can also cancel your existing Health Care Proxy by executing a new Proxy.

Here are five reasons why you should have a valid Health Care Proxy:

 First Reason….

For some reason, there is a misconception that Health Care Proxies are for the elderly. This is not true. Every adult needs a health care proxy. Anybody can be in a situation where they’re temporarily unable to speak for themselves.

Your Health Care Agent’s authority to make health care decisions begins only after a determination is made that you lack the capacity to make or communicate your health care decisions.  For example, if you are temporarily unconscious, in a coma, or have some other condition so that you cannot make or communicate health care decisions.  This determination must be made in writing by your attending physician. You must be notified, it at all possible, of this determination. No decision of your Agent can go into effect if you object.

Second Reason…

Unfortunately if you do not have a health care proxy, your family may have an argument over who should make decisions and what those decisions should be. Sometimes families are unable to come to an agreement. When an agreement cannot be reached, the family will be forced to go to the Courts for guidance. The Court will most likely appoint either a third party or a member of your family to be your guardian. This guardian will ultimately have the authority to make all medical decisions on your behalf. The person the court picks to be your guardian may not be the person who you want to make your decisions.  

Third Reason…

Pick someone you trust. Pick someone you know will not be swayed by other people’s emotions and wishes but will instead stay true and honor YOUR desires and wishes. Pick a person that you have had an open and direct conversation with about your wishes and desires in various “worst-case” scenarios.

Your Health Care Agent will make decisions for you only after talking with your doctor or health care provider, and after fully considering all the options regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of your illness or condition.  It is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your Agent regarding your potential wishes and any moral or religious beliefs that may influence any medical decisions that may need to be made. If your Agent does not know what your wishes would be, your Agent would make decisions on what they believe would be in your best interest.

Fourth Reason…

You can state restrictions on what should be done on your behalf. For example you can establish “Do Not Resuscitate” orders (also called DNR orders). DNR orders are written instructions stating you do not want CPR performed on you in the event of an emergency.

A person might want a DNR order for several reasons including they have a terminal illness, after they were resuscitated their quality of life would be greatly impacted and regardless of the efforts made their death is anticipated in the near future due to other medical conditions.

You might also have Religious and/or Moral beliefs that influence your medical decisions and how you live your life. You can state these beliefs and/or restrictions in your health care proxy to provide guidance to both the person making your health care decisions and the medical staff treating you.

Fifth Reason…

Mostly importantly, you are providing yourself and your family members with peace of mind. If you become incapacitated, there is a plan already in place. Knowing this has been taken care of in advance is of great comfort to families.

Have questions or concerns about your Estate Plan? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A LIVING WILL

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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:

First Reason….

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.

 Second Reason…

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.

Third Reason…

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.

Fourth Reason…

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.

Fifth Reason…

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

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com 

YOUR #1 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION SHOULD BE GETTING YOUR ESTATE PLAN IN ORDER

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So have you ever stopped to think about what will happen if you die? Now I'm talking about the philosophical argument about heaven/hell. I'm talking about what will happen to the people and things you leave behind? Being proactive and planning for your family’s future is a necessity in today’s world. If you do not take the time to plan, the state will step in and dictate what happens to your minor children and your worldly possessions. Wouldn't you rather be in control of what happens? 

In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:

Will:

A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Durable Power of Attorney:

A durable power of attorney is a document whereby one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act as his or her attorney-in-fact. The person serving need not be an attorney so, to some extent, the term “attorney” is a misnomer. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in the shoes of the principal and acts for him or her on financial, business, or other matters.

Health Care Proxy:

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Living Wills:

A living will sets forth the specific written instructions of the principal regarding his or her treatment preferences in various hypothetical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Declaration of Homestead:

The Homestead Act allows Massachusetts homeowners to protect their home from future creditors.  The Act was updated and effective as of March 16, 2011. The updated Act allows homeowners to choose between an Automatic Homestead, which is effective without a written declaration and a written Declaration of Homestead. The amount of the Automatic Homestead protection is $125,000. When a written Declaration of Homestead is filed the exemption increases to $500,000. Both the homeowner and his/her spouse must sign the declaration form.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your  estate planning options: 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE INEVITABLE?

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Being proactive and planning for your family’s future is a necessity in today’s world. If you do not take the time to plan, the state will step in and dictate what happens to your worldly possessions. In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:

Will:

A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Durable Power of Attorney:

A durable power of attorney is a document whereby one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act as his or her attorney-in-fact. The person serving need not be an attorney so, to some extent, the term “attorney” is a misnomer. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in the shoes of the principal and acts for him or her on financial, business, or other matters.

Health Care Proxy:

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Living Wills:

A living will sets forth the specific written instructions of the principal regarding his or her treatment preferences in various hypothetical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Declaration of Homestead:

The Homestead Act allows Massachusetts homeowners to protect their home from future creditors.  The Act was updated and effective as of March 16, 2011. The updated Act allows homeowners to choose between an Automatic Homestead, which is effective without a written declaration and a written Declaration of Homestead. The amount of the Automatic Homestead protection is $125,000. When a written Declaration of Homestead is filed the exemption increases to $500,000. Both the homeowner and his/her spouse must sign the declaration form.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND YOUR HEALTH CARE PROXY

Religious Beliefs and Health Care Proxy

A Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you (the patient) to name someone you know to be your Health Care Agent. Your Health Care Agent’s authority to make health care decisions begins only after a determination is made that you lack the capacity to make or communicate your health care decisions.  For example, if you are temporarily unconscious, in a coma, or have some other condition so that you cannot make or communicate health care decisions.  This determination must be made in writing by your attending physician. You must be notified, it at all possible, of this determination. No decision of your Agent can go into effect if you object.

Health Care Proxies generally provide no guidance about what medical treatments are desired and, instead, simply designate an all-purpose decision maker (your Health Care Agent), to assess the medical situation as it arises and, in consultation with the treating physician, to make whatever medical-treatment decisions are required.  Health Care Proxies fill an important void in medical decision-making when a patient cannot make such decisions. Sometimes a patient's religious beliefs affects the medical decisions they would make for themselves. 

To be sure, death and dying are tough circumstances to contemplate in the best of situations, and the prospect of facing these issues without the ability to communicate or otherwise direct one’s care makes this context even more unsettling. It is, however,  possible for the patient to ask for modifications to the 'general' language of a Health Care Proxy to provide guidance to ensure that decisions being made on their behalf comply with religious requirements that the patient would have undoubtedly followed if they could make those decisions themselves.

Once you execute your Health Care Proxy, keep the original for yourself in a safe place. Then distribute copies to your primary care doctor, your Agent and any alternative Agent identified in the Proxy. This way if there is an emergency, there will be no delay in your Agent’s authority being recognized.

You may cancel (revoke) your Health Care Proxy at any time simply by informing your Agent or your health care provider that you want to do so. However, it is always to put this in writing so there is proof that your named Health Care Agent no longer has the authority. You can also cancel your existing Health Care Proxy by executing a new Proxy.

Have questions or concerns about your Estate Plan? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

What is a Living Will and do you need one?

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.

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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.

It is NOT legally enforceable in Massachusetts.

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.

Your Living Will should be updated every 3-5 years or as soon as possible after a major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a family member, etc.)

Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

WHY DO YOU NEED A HEALTH CARE PROXY?

A Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name someone you know to be your Health Care Agent. This should be a trusted person as they will make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions for yourself.

Your Health Care Agent’s authority to make health care decisions begins only after a determination is made that you lack the capacity to make or communicate your health care decisions.  For example, if you are temporarily unconscious, in a coma, or have some other condition so that you cannot make or communicate health care decisions.  This determination must be made in writing by your attending physician. You must be notified, it at all possible, of this determination. No decision of your Agent can go into effect if you object.

health care proxy

Your Health Care Agent will make decisions for you only after talking with your doctor or health care provider, and after fully considering all the options regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of your illness or condition.  It is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your Agent regarding your potential wishes and any moral or religious beliefs that may influence any medical decisions that may need to be made. If your Agent does not know what your wishes would be, your Agent would make decisions on what they believe would be in your best interest.

Once you execute your Health Care Proxy, keep the original for yourself in a safe place. Then distribute copies to your primary care doctor, your Agent and any alternative Agent identified in the Proxy. This way if there is an emergency, there will be no delay in your Agent’s authority being recognized.

You may cancel (revoke) your Health Care Proxy at any time simply by informing your Agent or your health care provider that you want to do so. However, it is always to put this in writing so there is proof that your named Health Care Agent no longer has the authority. You can also cancel your existing Health Care Proxy by executing a new Proxy.

Have questions or concerns about your Estate Plan? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

The importance of Estate Planning

If you die without any estate planning documents, the State will step in and decide how your assets will be distributed to those who survive you.

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Massachusetts Intestacy Statute

 Under G.L. c.1908,§ 2-102 (http://bit.ly/2DV3nkQ): 

  • The surviving spouse receives the entire estate if the decedent is not survived by descendants or parents, or if the only descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has no other descendants.
  • The surviving spouse receives the first $200,000 plus ¾ of the balance of the estate, if decedent is not survived by descendants but is survived by a parent.
  • The surviving spouse receives the first the first $100,000 plus 1/2 of any balance of the estate in all other scenarios.

IF you want to make sure your estate goes to specific people, you need to have a written will that is properly executed and witnessed.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com
@emcurranlegal

It’s a topic that many of us try to avoid – our deaths. Are you prepared?

cemetry.jpg

Being proactive and planning for your family’s future is a necessity in today’s world. If you do not take the time to plan, the state will step in and dictate what happens to your worldly possessions. In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:

Will:

A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Durable Power of Attorney:

A durable power of attorney is a document whereby one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act as his or her attorney-in-fact. The person serving need not be an attorney so, to some extent, the term “attorney” is a misnomer. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in the shoes of the principal and acts for him or her on financial, business, or other matters.

Health Care Proxy:

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Living Wills:

A living will sets forth the specific written instructions of the principal regarding his or her treatment preferences in various hypothetical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Declaration of Homestead:

The Homestead Act allows Massachusetts homeowners to protect their home from future creditors.  The Act was updated and effective as of March 16, 2011. The updated Act allows homeowners to choose between an Automatic Homestead, which is effective without a written declaration and a written Declaration of Homestead. The amount of the Automatic Homestead protection is $125,000. When a written Declaration of Homestead is filed the exemption increases to $500,000. Both the homeowner and his/her spouse must sign the declaration form.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com