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Common Legal Terms

Definitions provided by Lawrence Spaulding Jr.
LaTanzi, Spaulding & Landreth, P.C., Attorneys at Law

Conservator:Court appointed custodian of property belonging to a person determined to be unable to properly manage his or her property.
Durable Power of Attorney:A Durable Power of Attorney is similar to a Power of Attorney except that it continues notwithstanding the disability of the principal if certain language is included in the document. However, death of the principal still revokes it and the principal may revoke it in writing.
Guardian:One who legally has care and management of the person or estate, or both, of an incompetent person, who can not act for himself or herself, or of a minor. Court appointed to protect the interest of a minor or incompetent person and to provide for their care, welfare, education, maintenance and/or support.
Health Care Proxy:A written instrument which names another person, called the "agent," to make health care decisions for him or her when a doctor certifies in writing that the person can no longer make health care decisions for himself or herself. This document becomes operative only when the person becomes incapacitated in the attending physician's opinion and unable to understand the nature and consequences of health care decisions. A person may revoke a Health Care Proxy verbally or in writing.
Living Will:A written statement of a person's intent to refuse or accept extraordinary medical treatment such as artificial life support systems and artificial nutrition or hydration that are designed to prolong life. The statement is written when the person is competent in case it is ever needed to show to a judge in order to disconnect life support systems. This document if not officially recognized in Massachusetts, but it does provide written evidence of a person's wishes. A Living Will is officially recognized in several states.
Power of Attorney:An instrument in writing by which a person appoints another as his agent and confers upon him or her the authority to perform certain specific acts or kinds of acts on his behalf. The Power of Attorney is often used to handle an individual's financial matters. A Power of Attorney is revoked upon incapacity of the principal or death of the principal.


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