Advance Healthcare Planning
Massachusetts Advance Healthcare Directive

Massachusetts Advance Healthcare Directive


Jennifer Mcgee


Updated on  

March 17, 2023

8 Mins


When a person chooses to make a Living Will, along with the Medical Power of Attorney, these two legal documents become an Advance Directive. 

An Advance Directive may include your sign, names of witnesses, their signatures, etc. in adherence to your state’s requirements. Every state has different requirements to be followed. Some states ask for witnesses and notaries, others look for different criteria to be followed. 

Likewise, some states consider Living Will and Advance Directive as different and separate documents, whereas others consider both documents the same. In some states, Living Will and Advance Directive are used interchangeably. 

In this article, you will get a complete guide for making an Advance Directive for Healthcare in Massachusetts. 

Legal Requirements for a valid Advance Directive

  • Written by the grantor/declarant (i.e. the maker of an Advance Directive): Yes
  • Grantor must be:
  • Above the age of 18 years: Yes
  • Sound mind and memory: Yes
  • Signed by the grantor: Yes/direct any person to sign on your behalf
  • Signed by Proxy/Agent: No
  • Proxy/agent accepts his role in writing: No
  • Witness required: Yes
  • Number of witnesses: 2
  • Signed by the witnesses: Yes
  • Number of documents required: 1 
  • Other names for a Living Will in Massachusetts: Advance Directive
  • Other names for a Healthcare Power of attorney in Massachusetts: Advance Directive
  • Proxy can decide on mental health issues: No
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Who can be your witnesses in the Massachusetts Advance Directive?

Anyone can be your witness in Massachusetts if;

  • He is an adult i.e., above 18 years of age
  • He is a sound-minded person which means that he can understand the consequences of making an Advance Directive and the laws applied to it.

Note: Your witnesses cannot be: 

  • Your healthcare proxy/agent.
Advance Directives Massachusetts

Who can be your Proxy in the Massachusetts Advance Directive?

Anyone can be your Proxy/Agent in Massachusetts if;

  • He is an adult i.e., above 18 years of age, and
  • He is a sound-minded person which means that he can understand the consequences of being a witness to an Advance Directive and the laws applied to it.

Other than the above legal requirements, the Proxy/Agent should be:

  • Trustable to adhere to your wishes and intentions.
  • Trustable to defend you if there’s any disagreement about your medical care.
  • He wanted to be your Attorney in Fact of his own free will to take care of your health affairs.
  •  He should not be your doctor or one of the caretakers.

Note: You can appoint an Alternate Proxy as well. The alternative Proxy/Agent will step in if the first person you name as a proxy is unable, unwilling, or unavailable to act for you or if you decide to revoke his authority.

Notarization required for Massachusetts Advance Directive?

You do not need to notarize your Advance Directive in Massachusetts.

Learn about the requirements of Massachusetts Last Will and Testament and Massachusetts Last Will and Testament Template.

When does an Advance Directive come into effect in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, an Advance Directive becomes legally valid but doesn’t come into effect on signing the form by the grantor, proxy, and witnesses. 

An Advance directive comes into effect only when the doctor declares that you are incapable of deciding on your own and have become debilitated due to illness or injury.

Note: Your Massachusetts Advance Directive will not be effective in any medical crisis or emergency unless you are declared incapacitated to understand and communicate your wishes and consent by your doctor.

How can an Advance Directive be revoked?

You can revoke or terminate your Massachusetts Advance Directive (other than the designation of your agent) at anytime by:

  • A written revocation,
  • An oral revocation in presence of your agent/physician,
  • Tearing, burning, and obliterating or destroying the document in any other way,
  • Executing a new Advance Directive.

Note: Revocation of the Advance Directive will be effective when you communicate about it to your doctor and agent.

How to amend or change an Advance Directive? 

You can make changes or amend your Advance Directive at any time in Massachusetts but once it was witnessed and signed you have to remake a new document with the required changes. It is recommended to go through, double-check, and make sure of everything before signing the Advance Directive.

Massachusetts rules for changing Marital status after making your Advance Directive 

Divorce from the spouse will not make any effect on the validity of the Massachusetts Advance Directive unless the spouse was named as an agent in Part 1 of the Advance Directive form, the divorce or annulment of marriage or legal separation will revoke the Advance Directive with immediate effect.

Parts of the Massachusetts Advance Directive Form

Part 1: Appointment of Healthcare Agent

In Part 1, you can fill this form out and provide all the details about the appointment of the Healthcare Proxy/Agent along with the instructions to be followed by him.

Massachusetts Advance Directive Sample Form


I, , hereby appoint 

(name, home address and telephone number of proxy) 

as my health care agent to make any and all health care decisions for me, except to the extent that I state otherwise below. 

This Health Care Proxy shall take effect in the event that a determination is made by my attending physician that I lack the capacity to make or to communicate my own health care decisions. My attending physician shall make such determination in writing, and shall include his or her opinion regarding the cause and nature of my incapacity, as well as its extent and probable duration. 

(2) Name of alternate agent if the person I appoint above is unable, unwilling, or unavailable to act as my health care agent (optional):

Name: Address: Telephone Numbers: (home and cell) 

Part 2: Donation of organs

Massachusetts After Death Sample Form



Upon my death: (mark applicable box) 

[   ] (a) I do not give any needed organs, tissues, or parts, OR 

[   ] (b) I give the following organs, tissues, or parts only 

My gift is for the following purposes: (strike any of the following you do not want) 

(i) Transplant 

(ii) Therapy 

(iii) Research

(iv) Education

Part 3: Execution

You must sign in the presence of two witnesses. The details of the witnesses along with their signs are also required. 

Massachusetts Advance Directive Sample Form



Signature: Name: Date: Address: 

Statement by Witnesses 

I declare that the person who signed this document appears to be at least eighteen years of age, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence. He or she signed (or asked another to sign for him or her) this document in my presence. I am not the person appointed as agent or alternate agent by this document. 

(Signature of Witness 1) (Date) Telephone Number(s)

(Signature of Witness 2) (Date) Telephone Number(s)

Give photocopies of the signed original to your agent and alternate agent, doctor(s), family, close friends, clergy, and anyone else who might become involved in your health care. If you enter a nursing home or hospital, have photocopies of your document placed in your medical records. 

Be sure to talk to your agent(s), doctor(s), clergy, family, and friends about your wishes concerning medical treatment. Discuss your wishes with them often, particularly if your medical condition changes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between advance care planning and an advance directive?

The Advance Directive is a formalized version of your Advance Care Plan. An Advance Directive is a document through which you plan your healthcare and your preferences for your future care.

What is the advance health care directive in Massachusetts?

An Advance Directive is a legal-written document about your future medical care. It is a gift to family members and friends so that they won't have to guess what you want if you no longer can speak for yourself.

How does one officially complete an advance directive in Massachusetts?

The law requires that you sign your document, or direct another to sign it, in the presence of two adult witnesses, who must also sign the document to show that they believe you to be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.

Does Massachusetts recognize Living Wills?

Massachusetts is one of only three states that recognizes Health Care Proxies but does not recognize Living Wills. Living Wills are still potentially useful because they guide Agents and physicians about the types of choices a person would make.

How do I get power of attorney for elderly parent in Massachusetts?

You can request one from your attorney although you do not need an attorney to complete it. You can request a copy from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs by enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request to Elder Affairs/Health Care Proxy Form, 1 Ashburton Place, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02138.
Jennifer Mcgee
Parent to five young children. Estate Planning, Probate, and Family Law Attorney. Volunteer with Victim’s Advocates in the local sheriff's department...
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Jennifer Mcgree
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