Health Care Proxy

health care proxy

A Health Care Proxy is a document delegating to an agent the authority to make health care decisions, executed in accordance with Mass. Gen. Laws, Ch. 201D. The person establishing the Health Care Proxy is known as the Principal. The person appointed to act on behalf of the Principal is known as the Agent. A Principal may appoint an Agent as well as an Alternate Agent to serve when the Agent is not available, unwilling, or not competent to serve, and is not expected to become available, willing or competent to make a decision in a timely manner regarding the Principal's medical care.

Capacity to make health care decisions is defined in Mass. Gen. Laws, Ch. 201D as the ability to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of health care decisions, including the benefits and risks of and alternatives to any proposed health care, and to reach an informed decision.

An Agent has authority to make any and all health care decision on behalf of the Principal which the Principal could make, including decisions about life sustaining treatment, subject to any express limitations included in the written Health Care Proxy.

Determination of Incapacity of the Principal must be made by the attending physician according to accepted standards of medical judgment. The determination must be in writing and shall contain the attending physician's opinion regarding the cause and nature of the Principal's incapacity as well as its extent and probable duration.

      1. Even where a Principal has been determined to lack the capacity of make health care decisions, an objection by that Principal to a health care decision made by an agent pursuant to a health care proxy, the Principal's objection shall prevail unless a Court has determined that the Principal lacks capacity to make health care decisions.

Regained capacity as determined by the attending physician, the authority of the Agent will cease.

Suicide/Mercy Killing not condoned nor permitted under Mass. Gen. Laws, Ch. 201D.

Contact Attorney Mary K. Eaton