Advance Care Planning FAQs

Q: What are advanced directives? 

A: Advance directives are legal documents providing you the opportunity to express your healthcare wishes in writing so that your voice will be heard when you can no longer speak for yourself. Advance healthcare planning involves thinking, talking and preparing so that treatment decisions made are consistent with your needs and desires.

Q: Why do I need an advanced directive? 

A: Accidents and sudden illness can occur at any age, so it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure the best possible outcome for a worst-case scenario. If advance healthcare planning is taken seriously and properly communicated, a designated agent or proxy will have legal authority to oversee end-of-life care decisions, allowing your physicians to provide the best possible treatment in conjunction with your wishes. It also provides your loved ones with the proper guidance to make these critical and difficult decisions in line with your intentions. 

Q: What is a Health care Proxy? 

A: A Health care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, for any reason and at any time, you cannot make or communicate those decisions. 

Q: What is a Living Will? 

A: A Living Will is a written document that allows you to list medical treatments that you would or would not want if you become terminally ill and were unable to make your own decisions. While NOT a legal document in Massachusetts it is important in documenting a person's values, wishes and preferences for their loved ones and doctors when they are faced with medical decisions on the person's behalf.