Southeastern Massachusetts Incapacity Planning Attorney

elder woman in wheelchair with assistant in the park at sunset

Incapacity Planning Lawyer Helping Residents in Easton, New Bedford, and Hyannis

Although no one likes to think about becoming incapacitated, planning for that possibility is an essential part of estate planning. Incapacity planning can help to protect your well-being and your assets, and prevent the court from intruding on your family’s privacy in the event of a health crisis or medical emergency. 

At Surprenant and Beneski, P.C., our elder law and estate planning attorneys are here to provide you with knowledge, compassion and caring personal service when you need them most. When you consult us, we will take the time to get to know you, understand your healthcare concerns and help you establish the essential incapacity planning documents including:

  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (healthcare proxy)
  • Living Will

Our legal team has a well-earned reputation for helping our clients navigate their most pressing challenges and always putting their best interests first. 

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that enables you to elect a trusted person, such as a family member or close friend, to act in your place for financial matters in the event you become incapacitated. When you appoint another individual to make financial decisions on your behalf, that individual acts as your agent and is referred to as an “attorney-in-fact.” The person you select has the legal authority to handle matters such as paying bills, managing property, and handling investments. 

Generally, there are two types of durable powers of attorney — “present”  and “springing.” In a present durable power of attorney, power is immediately transferred to your attorney-in-fact. By contrast, a springing or future durable power of attorney only goes into effect upon your becoming disabled, which must also be verified by your doctor. 

By failing to create a durable power of attorney, your loved ones may need to go to court to obtain the legal authority to handle your affairs. This is a time-consuming process that involves costly court and attorney fees.  A durable power of attorney will give you the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones will be able to avoid going to court to help manage your affairs when you are unable to do so.

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A durable power of attorney for healthcare or healthcare proxy is a type of advance medical directive that allows you to designate a trusted family member or close friend to make decisions about your medical care if you lose the ability to communicate these decisions. In this arrangement, the person you name coordinates your medical treatment options with your physician according to your preferences. You can give your healthcare agent the authority to decide about all healthcare or only certain treatments, and this person must make sure that health care providers follow your wishes. 

What is a Living Will?

A living will is another type of advance medical directive that specifies the type of medical care you prefer to receive or have withheld if you become terminally ill and cannot communicate your wishes about end of life treatment. In particular, a living will establishes whether certain measures, such as a ventilator or a feeding tube, should be used to prolong your life

Other Important Healthcare Directives for Incapacity Planning

If you become critically ill and do not wish to receive extraordinary life-prolonging measures, it is necessary to complete a do not resuscitate order (DNR). In the event of a medical emergency, a DNR notifies doctors, nurses and emergency personnel not to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation to keep you alive.

Finally, it is crucial that other healthcare providers and family members can access your medical records and history. For this reason, it is necessary to complete a HIPAA authorization — a document required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Contact Our Southeastern Massachusetts Incapacity Planning Attorney

If you fail to establish an incapacity plan, the Massachusetts court will appoint individuals to make financial and medical decisions that may not agree with your wishes. Ultimately, incapacity planning is essential for protecting you and your loved ones, which is where the legal team at Surprenant and Beneski, P.C. can help. 

We will work closely with you in putting the necessary incapacity planning documents in place, giving you peace of mind that your personal affairs and medical care will be properly managed if you are not able to make decisions for yourself. We also recommend discussing your incapacity plan with your loved ones to avoid future disagreements. Please contact our office today to speak with our elder law and estate planning attorneys.