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Arlanson Law Offices
Five Assinippi Avenue
P.O. Box 111
Hanover, MA 02339
(781) 659-5900


The Massachusetts Medical Health Care Proxy

A "Health Care Proxy" is a document appointing an agent (and alternate agent) to make medical decisions on one's behalf if one should subsequently become incapacitated or disabled. This statute appears as Chapter 201D of the Massachusetts General Laws.

In Massachusetts, medical health care facilities and medical care providers in general are authorized to recognize a written health care proxy by one granting another person the power to make medical decisions for one subsequently unable to do so for one's self. An alternate proxy may (and should) also be named to act if the primary proxy is unavailable or incapacitated. This enabling act provides for appointing a medical decision-maker who is then able to decide whether life-sustaining treatments should be prolonged or withheld for a person unable to make that decision, as well as all the more routine health care decisions.

The Health Care Proxy law does not, however, authorize the execution of a "Living Will" as such, but authorizes the appointment of a person to make medical decisions for another person who subsequently becomes incompetent. So in Massachusetts, it is still wise to consider a "Living Will" in order to give written direction to the person whom one may have appointed as one's Health Care Proxy. In other words, it is probably advisable to consider executing both a Health Care Proxy and a Living Will, but a Health Care Proxy is essential in Massachusetts.


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