The Difference Between A Health Care Proxy and Living Will

Health Care Proxies and living wills in Massachusetts both address situations in which medical decisions are made on your behalf when you cannot communicate your wishes for yourself. A Health Care Proxy allows you to designate someone (called your Agent) to make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so whereas a living will allows you to list certain treatments you want or do not want to be withheld should you become terminally ill and unable to communicate at that stage. Although Massachusetts does not recognize living wills at this time, this document can be a useful in guiding your Agent during a very emotional time.

As with any estate planning you undertake, it is recommended that you discuss your intentions with your Agent so they understand and are able to follow your wishes regarding medical treatment and accept the appointment. If your Agent understands what your wishes are and how you would have made decisions if you were able, the process will be much more effective and less stressful.