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Health care planning and power of attorney

Many Massachusetts residents who are creating an estate plan for the first time may be surprised by the number of steps involved or by the variety of options available to them. Some may believe that they only need to be concerned with creating a will, but health care planning can also be very important. Those who have long-term health concerns may be more likely to set up a health care power of attorney because appointing one of these individuals can help to prevent many problems before they begin.

A health care power of attorney is appointed to help make medical decisions on behalf on someone who is unable to make those decisions because of incapacitation. Unlike an advanced directive or living will, which usually only focuses on end-of-life medical care, a medical power of attorney can be used to make decisions about medical care no matter how old the individual. However, in some states, these documents are considered to be suggestions, and it is up to the appointed power of attorney to determine which treatments to use. 

Appointing a power of attorney can also help to relieve pressure on a person's family. If someone has been given the authority to make medical decisions for an incapacitated individual then the family and friends of the incapacitated person may be less likely to argue and debate over which treatments to use. An advanced directive, even if doctors are not required to uphold it, may help because it gives everyone involved an idea of what kinds of treatment options are available. 

Planning for future health care can be beneficial for all, not just those with serious health concerns. Massachusetts residents who wish to discuss their health care planning options could benefit from speaking with a local attorney. These plans may help to prevent many problems such as who should make decisions when a person is unable to do so for him or herself. It can also help determine what treatment options would the injured or ill individual prefer to receive or avoid, and it could help to prevent arguments amongst a person's loved ones. 

Source: ocregister.com, "Medical power of attorney: What is it, and who needs one?", Amy Osmond Cook, May 22, 2018

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