Living Wills

Massachusetts Estate Planning

Living Wills

Document your medical decisions and preferences

A Living Will, also commonly referred to as an Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document that is very similar to a Healthcare Proxy in that it allows you to formally set forth your wishes concerning medical treatment in the event you become incapacitated or terminally ill. However, Living Wills are generally only used in the case of a terminal illness. Unlike a last will and testament, a living will does not direct where your property goes.

A Living Will allows you to state your decisions as to your future medical treatment in life-threatening situations and, in particular, to specify the circumstances under which certain life-prolonging treatments will be desired. In addition to general preferences, some people incorporate religious beliefs and other considerations, making your wishes known to trusted family members and medical professionals by taking the guesswork and uncertainty away from those charged with making your care decisions.

The exact language of your Living Will serves as the directive for medical decision-making in the event that you are unable to communicate your wishes.

Doctor wearing blue scrubs and stethascope walking through hospital hallway

Used as a Guide — Non Binding in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, a Living Will or Advance Health Care Directive is not binding. Instead, it serves as a guide to the agent appointed under a Healthcare Proxy.

Typically, for a Living Will to take effect, a physician must certify that you are:

  1. incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate;
  2. you are suffering from a terminal illness;  and
  3. your ultimate recovery is hopeless.

A Living Will and a Healthcare Proxy can be created as a part of your estate and medical plan. Read more about Healthcare Proxies and Medical Directives.

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