Five Questions about “Five Wishes”

Recently, clients have expressed an interest in using the “Five Wishes” Document ( as their Health Care Proxy and Living Will as part of their Estate Plan.  Although there are a number of good points to the Five Wishes Document, we do NOT recommend using this document as your Health Care Proxy in Massachusetts.

Our concerns about the “Five Wishes” document in Massachusetts:

  1. There is no specific reference in Five Wishes to the Massachusetts law which states how incapacity is determined which leaves “incapacity” undefined.


  1. Five Wishes also contains no reference to return to capacity. In our Health Care Proxy, once the principal returns to capacity (for example, waking up after being under anesthesia), the principal is once again in charge of his/her own health care decisions.


  1. Five Wishes requires two separate medical professions to rule on lack of capacity – our Health Care Proxy references only your primary care physician OR the attending physician.


  1. Five Wishes, Page 5, requires you to know what procedures to insert as medical treatment that you do not want – our advanced directive makes it easier by giving you a list of treatments to check or not check, depending upon what medical care you want.


5. While “Five Wishes” speaks to access to your medical records, our Health Care Proxy refers specifically to the HIPAA act and provides more detail on the access and the records.