The Importance of having a health care proxy in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts law, a health care proxy allows you to designate someone to make health related decisions for you. In the event, you’re not able to communicate with your physician, you’re also able to designate an alternate. Think of this as having a backup person. So, in the event, the first person you named is unavailable for any reason to make the decision, you have someone else there to help.
Hospitals want you to have this document in place in case anything comes up during the course of your care. That way they know who the go-to person is.
It’s pretty simple to put in place a health care proxy. Our estate planning and probate law firm always advises our clients; “Don’t leave it to chance.”
What a health care proxy protects you against
If your spouse becomes ill, you can’t assume that you’re automatically able to make health related decisions on their behalf. And, if the shoe is on the other foot, your spouse isn’t automatically able to make decisions on your behalf. The same is true for parents who are not automatically able to make health decisions for their adult children. Likewise, adult children are not automatically able to make health related decisions for their parents.
Unfortunately, we hear about these kinds of stories all the time. People presume that because they’re your next of kin, they’re close to you, that they’re automatically able to take care of these things for you. But that’s just not the case. If the health care proxy document is not in place, then the hospital needs you to go into probate and family court to obtain what’s called a guardianship.
Now, this process requires you to go to court before a judge, it’s open record, it’s on the record public proceeding. It’s expensive, it takes some time, and it’s really, really stressful. The last place your loved ones should be at a time like this is that probate and family court. Take care of this for your loved ones and you can take care of all that stress and the expenses for them and protect them with a health care proxy.
Getting a health care proxy in place is easy
The good news is that the time, expense, and stress of a guardianship proceeding is really easy to avoid, just put a health care proxy in place. In Massachusetts, the health care proxy requires that you designate an agent. So, what you do is that you name somebody, then you name your backup just in case, and then you sign the document.
You’ll also need to sign this in front of an disinterested witnesses. Massachusetts law does not require that you sign this health care proxy in the presence of a notary public. However, some states do have that requirement. If you decide to create a health care proxy with our office, we will provide you with a witness and a notary public. That way if you’re traveling out of state or you’re a snowbird, your health care proxy will be valid in whatever state you’re in to give your family and yourself peace of mind and avoid an unnecessary guardianship court proceeding. If you’d like some help, we’re here, give our office a call or submit a form on our website.