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Difference between living wills and healthcare proxies

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2018 | Estate Planning |

People can begin making most types of estate plans as soon as they turn 18. However, most people do not seriously consider these documents until they are much older. There are many types of documents to have on the books in the event you become incapable of making decisions on your own. As a result, it is a good idea to have both healthcare proxies and a living will even though Massachusetts does not recognize living wills. However, living wills are still good to create because they can guide physicians and agents of what to do regarding your health. 

While both have their benefits, it is important to be aware of the ramifications of each type of estate plan. Creating both helps ensure a doctor follows your wishes in the event you cannot communicate.

The primary difference

A living will lays out what you wish a doctor to do when you cannot make decisions on your own. A healthcare proxy is another type of document in which you give another person the power to make healthcare decisions in your behalf. Hopefully, this person will know what is in your best interest. A proxy also gets to continue to make decisions when a your health changes in any way. 

The importance of both

A living will gives someone more control of what happens to you if your health takes a turn for the worst. However, a person may not account for every possibility, and this is where a healthcare proxy comes into play. It is a big responsibility for someone to become a proxy, so it is vital to speak with the person ahead of time about this designation. Although Massachusetts does not formally recognize living wills, having such a document in place can greatly help the proxy. This person can review the living will and make a decision based on the information it contains.