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Massachusetts residents should add these documents to estate plan

We know why people put off creating their estate planning documents. It's scary to state your wishes about your death. But in some cases, estate planning involves creating documents that will state your wishes about what happens when you're alive.

That's where planning for medical emergencies comes in. There are three documents Massachusetts residents should consider drawing up to guide family and doctors in a time of great need. Some are tailored to those who have existing medical conditions, but everyone should consider completing the documents that apply to them now while they are of sound mind and body.

  1. An advance directive, also known as a health care directive, tells your family how you'd like to be treated at the end of your life. You will designate a health care proxy who can make decisions on your behalf if you can't make them yourself, and you also will state the kind of medical treatment you would like – or don't want – in life-threatening situations. Your proxy will be able to follow your wishes by having this document. This is valuable for all adults.
  2. A Do Not Resuscitate order, commonly referred to as a DNR, tells medical personnel that you don't want to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation performed or be placed on life support. Your proxy and doctor both should have a copy of this, as well as any caregivers. This is appropriate for anyone who has a serious medical condition and is legally binding.
  3. A MOLST form is another advanced medical directive. MOLST stands for Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. These forms document what you and your doctors have discussed about the type of life-sustaining treatment that you desire.

We understand that this is a scary subject, but it is vital to have one or all of these forms among your important papers. An estate planning attorney can discuss with you the how and why of completing these documents.

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