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 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"

42 USC 1395cc(f) Social Security Act: Maintenance of written policies and procedures

Federal regulations

42 CFR 489.100 Advance directives


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

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."

Web sources

3 step health care planning guide, 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."

End of life care, Exec. Office of Health and Human Services.  
Includes links to brochures in many languages, 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."

Giving someone a power of attorney for your health care, American Bar Association, 2020.
"The new booklet and form focuses on the single most important legal task—that of appointing a health care agent." Includes downloadable guide and multi-state form.

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.

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."

Print sources

Estate planning for the aging or incapacitated client in Massachusetts, 5th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf. vol. 1, chap. 2.

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, 4th ed. MCLE, loose-leaf, vol. 2 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.


Last updated: May 22, 2023

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