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Why consider advance directives?

When it comes to estate planning, failing to create a plan for all conceivable situations can result in a lot of problems. For instance, in the event of one's incapacitation, who is going to make all of the important medical decisions? Having clear instructions and an assigned representative matters. For this reason, Massachusetts residents may want to consider having advance directives.

So, what exactly is an advance directive? This is a legal document in which one expresses his or her wishes regarding medical treatments should something happen making it impossible for him or her to communicate those wishes in person. These are useful to have in emergency situations or near the end of one's life.

An advance directive will not be considered valid unless it is signed with at least two witnesses present. It may also be necessary to have the document notarized. Before an advance directive can be utilized, one or more doctors will have to agree on a person's ability to make his or her own decisions and his or her condition must meet any applicable state requirements for incapacitation.

Advance directives do not do any good if no one is aware of their existence. Copies can be given to medical providers, family members, friends or any other applicable parties. Those who have planned medical procedures can also take copies with them to be added to their medical files.

While it may not be necessary to have advance directives, it can take a lot of pressure off of family members and prevent conflicts if wishes for medical care are clearly expressed. Some may feel that preparing advance directives is difficult to do alone. An experienced attorney can help those residing in Massachusetts with this and other aspects of planning for the future, making the estate planning process as easy as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "What are Advance Directives?", Accessed on Oct. 31, 2016

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