The world of estate planning can be confusing, particularly when there are new developments in the field. In a recent post, we provided an introduction to one of those new areas – MOLST orders. MOLST stands for “Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.” We also explained that a MOLST order is different from a health care proxy. Today, we dig a little deeper into an element of a health care proxy that does have some potential overlap with a MOLST order.
One typical component of a health care proxy vests your “agent” with the authority to make any and all health care decisions that the principal could make. Typically, this section of a health care proxy sets forth decisions concerning certain treatments or supports you would like to receive or not receive under certain scenarios. One such scenario is where a person has become vegetative, and/or cannot survive without artificial life support. Many people would prefer not to receive life-sustaining treatment under such circumstances, and statement of intentions expresses such preferences. Typical language used in a health care proxy reflects that a person wishes to not be kept alive by “life-prolonging procedures” which often refers to artificial life support.
All of which brings us back to MOLST orders. There is certainly some potential commonality between a MOLST order and a health care proxy, but there is also an important potential difference. A health care proxy usually speaks to future circumstances that have not yet arisen. A MOLST order, by contrast, is an active order to medical professionals concerning specific end-of-life issues that could reasonably arise in the near-term.
Relatedly, it’s important to remember that your health care agent – the person whom your health care proxy appoints – can only take actions in a situation where you are incapacitated. So health care decisions can be acted on by your agent only when you cannot communicate with your medical professionals. And again, a MOLST order has immediate effect, and will be applied by your medical professionals whether or not you are legally incapacitated.
Contact Frain and Associates to help you navigate these complex issues.