Do I Need a Health Care Proxy?

If you have found yourself asking this question, the answer is an emphatic yes. Health Care Proxies are one of the most important documents in your estate plan. So what is it, and why is it so important?

A Health Care Proxy is a document that allows someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated. This situation could arise if you are in surgery and there are complications, if you are in a motor vehicle accident, or if your mental state is such that you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. A doctor’s job is to treat you. If you find yourself in any of these situations and do not have a Health Care Proxy, your doctors under certain circumstances may be required to take specific medical actions or provide you with a treatment that you would not have wanted.

Furthermore, if you become incapacitated (i.e. coma, Alzheimer’s, etc.) and you do not have a Health Care Proxy in place, your family may need to petition the court for a guardianship over you. In a guardianship, the court appoints someone to have the legal right to make your medical decisions for you.  A guardianship can be costly, time consuming, and extremely stressful during an otherwise emotionally taxing event.

If you have a Health Care Proxy naming a trusted adult child, parent, friend, or family member as your health care agent, you should have a conversation with that person to discuss what you would want done in different medical scenarios. A Health Care Proxy allows you to rest easy knowing that whatever the situation, someone who loves you will be looking out for your best interest.

If you are interested in discussing Health Care Proxies in greater detail, please contact me at 508-929-1620 or lkofos@mirickoconnell.com.

About Leah Kofos

Leah is an associate in the firm's Trusts and Estates Group.  She focuses her practice in estate planning, estate and trust administration, guardianships and conservatorships, and elder law.  Prior to joining Mirick O’Connell, Leah was a law clerk at Squillace & Associates, P.C. and previously served as a judicial intern for Marlborough District Court and Lewiston, Maine District Court. Leah assists clients with the preparation of wills, trusts, health care proxies, durable powers of attorney, and MassHealth applications.
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