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Massachusetts Living Wills Laws

A living will is technically not a will, but a legally binding document in which a person declares how he or she would like to be treated in case of a medical emergency. For instance, you may state in your living will that you do not want to be kept alive through artificial respirators.

Does Massachusetts Allow Citizens To Have a Living Will?

No. Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states that do not allow legally binding living wills. If you write a living will in Massachusetts, your doctors are not legally obligated to follow your wishes. However, a living will can help health care providers and the courts make decisions about your medical care.

Massachusetts does, however, have a Health Care Proxies law.

What Is a Health Care Proxy?

A health care proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions for you, if, for any reason, you are unable to make these decisions yourself.

Who Can I Choose To Make Medical Decisions For Me?

The person you choose must be at least 18 years old, and should be someone you know and trust to act in your best interest. That person will be known as your " health care agent." You can give your agent the authority to make all medical decisions for you, or you can limit your agent's authority by including a list of specific medical treatments you would accept or reject.

When Does My Health Care Proxy Kick In?

Your health care proxy only takes effect if your doctor or other health care professional declares in writing that you are unable to make your own decisions. This could happen if you were unconscious or in a coma, or mentally incompetent, for example. Your agent would then be allowed to talk to your doctors about your health, and would have the authority to accept or refuse treatment for you.

What If I Want To Change My Agent?

You are entitled to change your agent or health care proxy at any time.

See FindLaw's Living Wills section for more information.

Code Section No statutory provisions (But see Health Care Proxies Chap. 201D et seq.)
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts -
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will -
Revocation of Living Will -
Validity from State-to-State -
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney -
Immunity for Attending Physician -

Note: State laws surrounding living wills and estate planning are constantly changing -- contact a Massachusetts estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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