Massachusetts law about health care proxies and living wills

Laws, regulations, and web sources on health care proxies and living wills.

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Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 201D Health care proxies

MGL c. 190B, Art. V, Pt. 5, §§ 5-501 through 5-507 Durable power of attorney

Federal laws

42 USC 482.13 Patient’s rights, patient’s representation

42 USC 1396a(w)(1) "Patient Self-Determination Act", state plans and maintenance of written policies and procedures respecting advanced directives

42 USC 1395cc(f) Social Security Act: Maintenance of written policies and procedures, patient’s rights to advanced directives

Federal regulations

42 CFR 489.100 Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, advance directives


Health care proxy information and forms, Massachusetts Medical Society.

Living will form (Personal directive), Honoring Choices Massachusetts.
"Even though the Personal Directive or any Living Will in MA is not legally binding on your doctors, it gives all your care providers clear evidence of what you want and do not want for care."

Massachusetts health care proxy,
Includes a form and an explanation of the law and what to consider.

Web sources

End of life care, Dept. of Public Health.  
Includes links to brochures in many languages (Know your choices), regulations, and more, regarding Mass. requirement that health care providers "distribute to appropriate patients...culturally and linguistically suitable information regarding the availability of palliative care and end-of-life options."

Health care proxies and end of life care, Mass. Medical Society.
Includes information on health care proxies, living wills, hospice, and more.

Massachusetts medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST), Mass. Dept. of Public Health.
Everything you need to know about the law, for patients, families, and health care providers. "MOLST is a medical order form (similar to a prescription) that relays instructions between health professionals about a patient's care. MOLST is based on an individual's right to accept or refuse medical treatment, including treatments that might extend life." Site includes forms, videos, and more. (Massachusetts is transitioning to POLST, Portable Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, more info from the Mass Coalition for Serious Illness Care.)

Tool kit for health care advance planning, American Bar Association.
"To help you in this process, this tool kit contains a variety of self-help worksheets, suggestions, and resources. There are currently 9 tools in all, each clearly labeled and user-friendly. The tool kit does not create a formal advance directive for you. Instead, it helps you do the much harder job of discovering, clarifying, and communicating what is important to you in the face of serious illness."

Who's your agent? You can make your own health care plan, Honoring Choices Massachusetts.
Provides sample health care proxy and personal directive as well as information about Durable Power of Attorney, Living Wills and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST). Scroll to "5 Massachusetts Care Planning Documents."

Print sources

Elder law, (Massachusetts Practice, v.56) Thomson/West, chapter 2 Incapacity and substitute decision making.

Estate planning for the aging or incapacitated client in Massachusetts, 5th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf. vol. 1, chap. 2. Includes a sample Durable Power of Attorney.

Estate planning: with forms, 3rd ed. (Massachusetts Practice v.23), Thomson/West, 2007 with supplement. Chapters 3 and 4.

How to write your own living will, 4th ed. Edward Haman. Sphinx Pub., 2004.

"Living wills: Validity, construction and effect," 49 ALR4th 812.

Massachusetts elder law, 2nd ed. William J. Brisk, Ilene S. Klein, and Ellen B. Scult, Lexis, chap. 5 and 6.  

Massachusetts estate planning, will drafting and estate administration forms: Practice by John H. Clymer, Katherine L. Babson, and Robert G. Bannish, Lexis, loose-leaf, vol. 1 chap. 13.

A practical guide to estate planning in Massachusetts, MCLE, 2022, chap. 8.

"Propriety of, and liability related to, issuance or enforcement of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders," 46 ALR 5th 793.

The right to die, 3d ed., by Alan Meisel. 2 vols. Aspen, loose-leaf, chapter 7, Advanced directives.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about health care proxies and living wills

Last updated: March 14, 2024

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