In Massachusetts, a living will is a companion document to your health care proxy. Your health care proxy is the document that names the people you want to help you in the event that you can’t make health care decisions for yourself. The living will is the document that outlines what those wishes are for your agents.
The living will is a personalized document which has your specific wishes. However, those wishes may change over time as your health or life situations changes. It is a good idea to review your living will and update it from time to time. Here are some times you may want to do that:
- Before you go to the hospital for a surgery,
- When you have a significant change in your health,
- When you become pregnant,
- When a family member has been through a health crisis and you want to be sure your living will encompasses a situation that may have come up,
- When the media has reported on a situation where not having a clear living will has negatively impacted a person and you want to make sure that won’t happen in your family,
- If you can’t remember what it says,
- On milestone birthdays such as ages that end in zero or five.
If you don’t have a living will, you can write one yourself, use a booklet such as the Five Wishes Living Will, or ask your attorney or doctor about preparing one.