Avoid Probate & Family Court Proceedings By Putting A Simple Health Care Proxy in Place

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Hi, I’m Kim Rainan, an estate planning attorney in Andover, Massachusetts. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about a very important document called a health care proxy. Under Massachusetts law, a health care proxy allows you to designate someone to make health related decisions for you. In the event, you’re not able to communicate with your physician, you’re also able to designate an alternate. So that’s like a backup person. In the event, the first person you named, is unavailable for any reason. Hospitals really want you to have this document in place in case anything comes up during the course of your care. That way they know who the go to person is, it’s really important. And as I’ll tell you, it’s pretty simple to put in place. So don’t leave it to chance. If your spouse becomes ill, you can’t assume that you’re automatically able to make health related decisions on their behalf. And if the shoe is on the other foot, your spouse isn’t automatically able to make decisions on your behalf. The same is true for parents who are not automatically able to make health decisions for their adult children. And adult children are not automatically able to make health related decisions for their parents. And we hear this all the time. People presume that because they’re your next of kin, they’re your close relation, that they’re automatically able to take care of these things for you. But that’s just not the case. If the health care proxy document is not in place, then the hospital needs you to go into probate and Family Court to obtain what’s called a guardianship. Now, this process requires you to go to court before a judge, it’s open record, it’s on the record public proceeding. It’s expensive, it takes some time, and it’s really, really stressful. The last place your loved ones should be at a time like this is that probate and family court with me. Take care of this for your loved ones and take all that stress expense, time off the table for them and protect them with a health care proxy. The good news here is that the time expense and stress of a guardianship proceeding is really easy to avoid, just put a health care proxy in place. In Massachusetts, the health care proxy requires that you designate an agent. So you name somebody, then you name your backup just in case and then you sign in date the document. You’ll also need to sign this before to disinterested witnesses. So that means to people that aren’t named in the document. It doesn’t require under Massachusetts law that you signed before a notary public. However, some states do have that requirement. So when you do your health care proxy with our office, we provide to witnesses and a notary public. That way if you’re traveling out of state or you’re a snowbird your health care proxy will be valid there to give your family and yourself peace of mind and avoid an unnecessary guardianship court proceeding by taking care of your health care proxy right away. If you’d like some help, were here, give our office a call.