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What is a Health Care Proxy and Living Will?

What Is a Health Care Proxy and Living Will?

In the aftermath of the tragic case involving Terri Schiavo, interest in living wills has increased markedly. A living will expresses your wishes about being kept alive if you’re terminally ill or seriously injured.

Other famous Americans have used living wills to retain control over their final medical care through use of a living will and a health care power of attorney. During the final weeks of his life, former President Richard Nixon refused “heroic measures” and received only palliative (comfort-easing) care at his home. Similarly, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis refused life-prolonging medical intervention before her passing.

Perhaps you’ve reflected on your own wishes if you were to face a similar situation. Although no one likes to imagine the possibility of being in such a helpless state, the statistical possibility of such an event remains significant. This is why it’s wise to ensure that your wishes will be respected if you become incapacitated.

Just as a will becomes the governing entity for your estate after you die, a living will can make your wishes clear and legally binding in the event of a devastating illness or injury. A living will is often referred to as a health care power of attorney. In it you state how you should be treated in the event of a terminal disease, severe illness, or tragic accident. By giving such directions when you are healthy, your relatives won’t have to make difficult decisions on your behalf, and you’ll receive the type of care you desire.

Issues you might want to consider addressing include:

  • Organ donation
  • Religious and faith issues
  • Hospital, nursing home, and hospice arrangements
  • Funeral arrangements

To carry out your living will, you’ll need a health care directive, a written statement that expresses how you wish to be treated in advance of any incapacity. Make sure you give precise, comprehensive directions.

You’ll also need a health care proxy, designating a representative to make your health care decisions based on the guidelines you provide in the directive if you are incapacitated or unable to communicate your desires.

What Our Clients Experience

  • C.C. Dedham, MA

    My daughter was acquainted with Greta Atchinson, so when I had a need I naturally went to them. Both Greta and Dennis Sullivan have treated me wonderfully well! I’ve been very satisfied with the trust they did for me. Greta and Dennis were polite, caring and compassionate. They were very well prepared and helpful. I never felt rushed. I knew I needed to do something but didn’t know what. It was a great decision to go there. They were of tremendous help! Plus as a member of their Lifetime Protection Program I know they’re looking after me, plus whenever I have a question I can call them. I would absolutely recommend their services.

  • Mary McKernan, Needham, MA

    I’m extremely satisfied with the work that was done for my husband and me. Greta and the entire staff are always very helpful and nice. I’d initially found out about the Dennis Sullivan law firm when I was getting ready to retire and received a flyer from the state of Massachusetts that had various information on it. They are great people to know! We go in once a year now for a check-up that they provide. This keeps us very well informed about any developments, plus they answer all of my questions. The Sullivan group gets my highest recommendation!

  • C.B. Wellesley, MA

    We’re very pleased with the estate planning work that was done for us. My husband and I were very comfortable using their services. We originally went to one of their seminars, liked what we heard, and then came in for a consultation. I would definitely recommend going to see the people at Sullivan and Associates!

  • Mike McInerney, Framingham MA

    These people get things done! They got results in a number of different areas for me, such as estate planning, plus they’re still working with me and the state of Massachusetts in some matters involving my late wife. I first became acquainted with the Estate and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates a few years back. I’d seen an ad in the newspaper and went to one of Dennis’ free seminars, and then booked a consultation with him. He is very informative! Everyone there is very friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. They are very accommodating people who get things well taken care of. I highly recommend their services!

  • J.S., Boston, MA

    I’m pleased to say they are my law firm! They’ve been very helpful to me over the years. I especially like the fact that they do a yearly check on all of my legal documents. This is a very viable service because things can change over time, and it’s good to know that I’m always current. This is very important, and I appreciate that they do this. These people do good work; they do things right!

  • H.S. Concord, MA

    Everything has gone fine. We first became familiar with the Sullivan Law Firm when we attended one of their seminars, and then made an appointment to come in for a consultation. We’ve been clients ever since. I appreciate that they continue to do a yearly review for us and advise us if we need to make any changes. As the saying goes, it’s good to have your ducks in a row! Everyone there has treated us wonderful. They are a very good group of people.

  • Noel Thyson, Winchester, MA

    I’m very satisfied with what the legal staff has done for me. Interestingly, an attorney I was using for another matter wound up recommending the Estate Planning and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates. I like the fact that they provide you with useful information, and quick answers. They treat you with dignity and respect. I highly recommend you go see them.

  • Matt DePalo, CPA., Natick

    The experience has been excellent. I am extremely satisfied with the Lifetime Protection Program.

  • I.C., Framingham

    The team at Dennis Sullivan & Associates is very helpful and knowledgeable. Everyone is pleasant and easy to do business with. I don't feel uncomfortable coming in. I interviewed four other attorneys...I'd rather come to you.

  • E.L., Lynn

    Thank you, Dennis, for your expert and caring assistance you have shown to me and my family. It was a trying and confusing process that needed a pro to guide us.

  • C.&J. K., Hopedale

    Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. We appreciate the promptness with which you handled our difficult situation.

  • B.S., Wayland

    We have told friends of our experience with Dennis Sullivan & Associates. We feel it has been very positive and beneficial.

  • Andy St. James, Holliston

    Dennis provided strong direction and guidance in developing and implementing a lifetime protection plan.

  • D.M. Framingham, MA

    We were very comfortable working with you and thank you for your patience in educating us about a process which frankly was quite foreign to us. We are pleased with the outcome and are pleased to recommend you to friends.

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