People typically do not want to think about what their lives would be like if they were incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions, but many could benefit from considering the possibility. Massachusetts residents, as well as others across the country, who are learning more about health care planning might be unaware of how many options they have available to them. Some might believe that a will is all that they need, but then they eventually discover that they could also benefit from setting up a power of attorney or an advanced directive.
Power of attorney may be given to a single person or it may be divided between two different people. A durable power of attorney is appointed to handle a person's finances if he or she is unable to do so. This includes paying bills, managing accounts or filing taxes if necessary. However, a health care power of attorney is appointed to make health care related decisions for an incapacitated person. Some of these tasks might include scheduling and keeping appointments, approving treatments, discussing medical care with doctors, or seeking other medical opinions.
While not all states are required to honor an advanced directive, these documents can still provide helpful guidelines to the person making the health care decisions. These documents may detail how the person wishes for a long-term illness or disability to be treated if they are unable to continue making medical decisions. It might also include details about a person's preferences concerning other medical services such as therapy or assistance in his or her day to day life.
Massachusetts residents who have questions concerning health care planning or other parts of estate planning could benefit from speaking with an attorney. An estate planning attorney would be able to help his or her clients understand their options and choose the one that works best for their situations. Attorneys may also be able to help clients to change and update existing plans.