Massachusetts End of Life Guide

Advance Directives 

Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to make known your end-of-life care ahead of time. The state of Massachusetts does not recognizes living wills, but it does recognize the appointance of a Health Care Proxy to act on your behalf when you are non longer able to do so. 

Here are some important questions to consider before beginning this process:

  • Is this document(s) state specific? No

  • Does this document(s) need to be notarized? No

  • Does this document(s) require witnesses? If so, how many? Yes / 2

  • Can you legally use Aging With Dignity's 5 Wishes DocYes

In Massachusetts, there is a single Health Care Proxy form. You can download this document by clicking below:


(Source: Massachusetts Medical Society)

Death with Dignity

Death with Dignity laws allow the dying more control of their death and end-of-life decisions. These laws allow terminally-ill, able-minded state residents to request and receive prescription medication to hasten their death.

In Massachusetts, Death With Dignity legislation has been submitted under House Bill 1998.

Designated Funeral Agent

The appointment of a designated funeral agent will override the next-of-kin's usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he/she wants to control the disposition of his body.

Massachusetts law does not supports the appointment of a designated funeral agent to follow through on your written personal preferences (see below) or make funeral arrangements on your behalf if no written preferences are indicated. Unless a pre-need contract is in place with a funeral home, your next-of-kin control the disposition of your body.

Financial Assistance

The department of Social Services shall provide for the final disposition of all deceased persons who are at the time of death recipients of aid or assistance of the state and all unknown persons found dead.

See our Financial Assistance Chart for more details.

Home Funeral

Home funerals, or family led funerals, are 100% legal in Massachusetts. Your family or appointed agent may care for the deceased and handle all your funeral arrangements and necessary paperwork (permits and certificates) without a funeral director.

Personal Preference Law

Personal preference laws for body disposition obligate your survivors to follow your written [or verbal] personal preferences. This often goes hand-in-hand with designating a funeral agent to follow through with your funeral or body disposition preferences.

In Massachusetts, there is not a law obligating your survivors to follow your personal preferences unless a pre-need contract is in place with a funeral home. However, we always recommend outlining your funeral preference in writing and sharing them with your designated funeral agent, next-of-kin, or spouse, giving you the best chance of having them seen through or upheld in the courts.