Health Care Directives

Health Care Directives

By Atty. Janice Small


The following health care directives are an important part of your estate plan, providing guidance for your loved ones in the event you become incapacitated, and allowing them to obtain information from your health care providers.

Health Care Proxy

The Massachusetts Health Care Proxy gives the individual you appoint as your health care agent (the "Agent") authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself. Your Agent's authority is broad, encompassing decisions relating to your mental, as well as physical, health. You may appoint one trusted individual to be your health care agent. It is a good idea to choose an alternate Agent in the event your primary Agent becomes unable or unwilling to act in this capacity.

Advance Directive or Living Will

An advance directive is a statement of your wishes regarding your health care. A “living will” is a form of advance directive focused on the use of life-sustaining measures to artificially prolong your life if you are terminally ill. Generally, you may choose to receive all treatments available, abstain from artificially prolonging your life, or you may put your wishes into your own words, including what treatments you do and do not want. Although such a direction is not legally binding in Massachusetts, some practitioners choose to include it in the Health Care Proxy because it provides your health care agent with some guidance as to what your wishes may be in these circumstances.

HIPAA Release Form

 The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) protects the privacy of your personal health information and bars health care providers from revealing information to others without your permission. This can present barriers when it’s important for such providers and your family to exchange information. A HIPAA Release Form authorizes your health care providers to disclose your protected health information to any individuals you name in the document. The form is used to describe and limit what health information your health care providers are authorized to disclose and the purposes for which disclosure is authorized.

Atty. Small Website

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

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