Living Wills and Advance Healthcare Directives Lawyer

Some of the most vital estate planning documents we prepare at Casey Lundregan Burns have nothing to do with assets or what happens after your death. These documents ensure that your health care wishes are followed during your lifetime. Advance healthcare directives include several key provisions to protect you in the event that you become unable to communicate due to illness or injury.

We prepare living wills and advance healthcare directives tailored to your specific wishes. Having these documents ready in advance avoids confusion and helps ease the burden on loved ones during challenging times.

What is a Living Will?

A “living will” has absolutely nothing to do with a traditional will. Where a standard last will and testament provides legal instructions for handling your property after you pass away, a living will provides instructions for the type of life-prolonging care you would want to receive in different medical situations. Sometimes this document is referred to in Massachusetts as a personal healthcare directive or it is combined with a separate advance healthcare directive.

Unlike other jurisdictions, Massachusetts does not treat a living will as legally binding. Your family cannot take someone to court to enforce the provisions. Nevertheless, the document is still very valuable because it provides important information to guide decision-making on your behalf if you are incapacitated and suffering from a serious medical condition such as advanced stages of cancer.

Your living will can be very specific. You might specify that you would want resuscitation but not blood transfusions. You might want to decline intravenous feeding if your doctors have determined that you will never regain consciousness. At Casey Lundregan Burns, we take the time to review your options in detail so you feel comfortable that the instructions align with your wishes.

A Living Will Coordinates with Other Advance Directives

Because Massachusetts law does not give legal effect to a living will as a standalone document, in our state it works in combination with other advance directives. One of these is a health care proxy. In this document, you appoint a health care agent who can make medical decisions and authorize treatment on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This document only takes effect if doctors definitively determine that you lack the capacity to make or communicate your own health care decisions.

Your agent will use your living will for guidance as they make decisions in particular situations.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones with an Advance Directive Living Will

No one wants to contemplate end-of-life medical situations. However, when you take the time to prepare advance healthcare directives, including a living will, you can ensure that you will get the care you want. Just as important, you ease the burden on family members or other loved ones because they won’t have to try to guess what you would want in particular situations.

Casey Lundregan Burns has been protecting families with a variety of estate planning strategies for over 90 years. We invite you to contact us to discuss the need to add or update documents in your estate plan to protect the future of yourself and your family.