By Kurt Hayes
One of the most important estate planning tools in Rhode Island is the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney under Rhode Island General Laws 23-4.10 and in Massachusetts the Health Care Proxy under Massachusetts General Laws, Ch. 210D. In both states these allow a person to designate a family member or friend to act on their behalf in the event they become ill or incapacitated. A health care proxy is a document that lets a person to appoint another person (a proxy or agent) to express your wishes and make health care decisions for you in the event you cannot speak for yourself.
Having a health care proxy or agent insures your desires for the preservation of your life; extraordinary life saving measures such as feeding tubes and resuscitation or your desire to not have these measures taken is honored. Without a health care proxy the laws of the state would take over and the medical care providers, such as your doctor or the doctor on staff at the hospital would make these decisions.
Modern medicine is certainly a marvel and the ability to prolong life beyond a meaningful and quality filled existence is not always in line with the individual’s hopes and expectations. While a person is healthy and able to have a clear mind as to how they wish their last days to end is a much better time to make these decisions. This alleviates the stress, heartache and tension for family members and friends. It also makes end of life decisions easier for your doctor and other health care professionals. In short, a good health care provider and estate planner will and should make a health care proxy part of your estate plan.
Next month I will discuss in more detail the need for a will. Please feel free to contact me free of charge with any questions or for meet with me at my office or at your home.