Durable Power of Attorney & Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is a legal document that allows a person (known as “the principal”) to name someone that they trust (“the agent”) to make medical decisions for them if for some medical reason they are unable to do so for themselves. The document is important because it allows the principal to state their wishes should they be unable to communicate them.
A durable power of attorney allows a person to name a person to serve as their attorney-in-fact to make decisions for them regarding finances and assets. It can go into effect right away or it can go into effect in the event a person becomes incapacitated (a “springing” power). It can cover basic tasks like paying bills or it can include the power to sell real estate and rollover retirement accounts. As with the health care proxy, it is important to choose someone whom you trust to be your attorney-in-fact.
A living will can also be included in an estate plan. A living will is not legally binding in Massachusetts, but it can be persuasive to a physician about a person’s specific desires for medical treatment.