Health Care Proxy

There are a few estate planning tools regarding situations when an incapacitated individual. Residents of Massachusetts might decide to appoint a health care agent (or “proxy”) to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacitation.  The appointment of a health care agent can be through document, which is referred to as ahealth care proxy.”

Abuse Cases
Where the health care agent fails or is unable to provide for the needs of the incapacitated individual or abuses his or her power with respect to that individual, it may be a reportable abuse, which requires “mandated” reporters to file a report with Elder Protective Services.  This also occurs where there is reason to believe that an elderly individual is at risk of abuse of an emotional, financial, physical, or sexual nature. Mandated reporters include a variety of medical professionals including counselors, dentists, medical interns, nurses, physicians, and physician assistants among many other medical professionals.

How a Health Care Agent Decides Whether to Consent to Treatment on a Patient’s Behalf
One of the responsibilities of a health care agent is to honor the wishes of the incapacitated individual.  A health care agent can determine what an incapacitated individual’s wishes are by reviewing any estate planning documents that might have been executed by the incapacitated individual and discussing the matter with the incapacitated individual’s loved ones and family members.

Revocation of a Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy allows an individual to revoke the terms of the proxy by notifying the health care agent orally, in writing or any act that demonstrates an intent to revoke the proxy (such as, for instance, destroying the original health care proxy, etc.).

The Powers Granted to a Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is granted the authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual.  An individual drafting a health care proxy may also wish to include a list of individualized medical treatments that the individuals finds acceptable or unacceptable in the event that the individual becomes incapacitated.

When A Health Care Proxy Comes Into Effect
A health care proxy takes effect in situations when an individual becomes incapacitated to the degree where he or she is unable to make decisions regarding their medical treatment.  When the situation includes the mental health of the individual, a medical professional who is trained in diagnosis medical illnesses must make the determination regarding incapacity.

Who Can Act as a Health Care Agent
The only requirement concerning who can be nominated as a health care agent is that the individual is eighteen years of age. When a health care proxy is drafted, it is wise to appoint an individual that can be trusted to act responsibly and follow established instructions.

Resources for Health Care Proxies

Health Care Proxy Information


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