If you are healthy and in the prime of your life, you may wonder why you’d need an advance directive. Perhaps you’ve already had a conversation with your loved ones about your health care decisions. You may be in poor health or elderly, but you’ve never taken the time to create an advance directive. In all of these situations, you would benefit from creating a Massachusetts advance directive. Until you take the simple but crucial step of signing an advance directive, you are at risk.
Most people think that only people who are older or ill need an advance directive. On the contrary, anybody who is 18 or older should have an advance directive in place. Massachusetts law allows you to create a legal document called an advance directive. An advance directive is a document that will enable you to express your wishes for medical care in a medical emergency in which you can’t speak for yourself. You can also state what you’d like your loved ones to do with your body after death.
1. An Advance Directive Will Ensure Your Wishes are Met
In an advance directive, you will choose a friend or trusted family member to make healthcare decisions for you on your behalf. You will be able to make your own health care decisions until you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Should you recover and become able to communicate your wishes again, your chosen representative will no longer make decisions on your behalf.
For example, a mother becomes incapacitated. She is not very close to her adult children, and her sister is her best friend. She trusts her sister implicitly and has discussed her end-of-life decisions with her sister. She becomes incapacitated in a car accident. However, she doesn’t have an advance directive that appoints her sister to make decisions for her.
Now, her children with whom she isn’t close are responsible for making decisions on her behalf. By creating an advance directive, you can state your wishes for specific medical scenarios. You can also appoint the person you trust to make decisions on your behalf.
2. An Advance Directive Will Help Your Family and Loved Ones
At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we have seen many situations in which families become torn apart over a loved one’s medical decisions. A person’s spouse might decide to terminate life support against the wishes of the person’s children. When an individual does not have an advance directive, loved ones may not be able to learn anything about the person’s medical condition. Doctors are not allowed to discuss a patient’s medical records without the legal authority to do so. In these situations, close relatives can find themselves left in the dark about their loved one’s condition.
Creating an advance directive will allow you to choose who can become informed about your medical condition and who has a right to make decisions on your behalf. Doing so will go a long way in smoothing over potential difficulties among concerned family members and friends.
3. An Advance Directive Could Mean the Difference Between Life and Death
In some medical scenarios, a patient suffers from brain damage after a heart attack or other medical emergency. The patient may be able to breathe on his or her own but might need a feeding tube to receive nutrition. What happens when the patient’s brother thinks that the doctor should remove the feeding tube so the patient can be allowed to pass away? The doctor might disagree and believe that the patient has a chance of waking up.
In this scenario and others like it, an advance directive could be the difference between your life and death. The person you choose to make decisions for you could ultimately decide whether you live or die. If you do not have an advance directive, Surprenant & Beneski, PC can help. Schedule your initial consultation with a member of our legal team today.