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Maryland Living Wills Laws

In the unthinkable case when someone we love becomes incapacitated and needs medical attention, it’s always best to have a plan in place to make the important decisions in his or her life. A living will can provide such a plan. This is a brief summary of living wills laws in Maryland.

Living Wills Laws

Under state law, living wills function a little differently from the wills we normally think of. Instead of bequeathing a person’s property and possessions, a living will is a legally binding document that can state a person’s medical treatment preferences, should they become unable to do so.

Maryland Living Wills Statutes

Living wills statutes in Maryland are highlighted in the chart below.

Code Section

HG §5-601, et seq. Health Care Decisions Act

Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts

Any medical procedure, treatment, or intervention which uses mechanical or other artificial means to maintain, restore a spontaneous vital function or of such a nature as to afford patient no reasonable expectation of recovery from a terminal condition, persistent vegetative state, or end-stage condition; includes artificially administered hydration, nutrition, and CPR. Does not include medication or procedure necessary to alleviate pain or provide comfort care; may include an anatomical gift directive

Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will

(1) Voluntary; (2) dated and in writing; (3) signed by declarant or at express direction of declarant; (4) subscribed by 2 witnesses; (5) effective when attending physician and second physician certify in writing that patient is incapable of making an informed decision on basis of physical examination within 2 hrs. of certification (if patient is unconscious, 2nd physician not required); (6) oral directives must be made in presence of attending physician and one witness; physician must sign and date documentation in patient's medical record. (suggested forms §5-603)

Revocation of Living Will

Revocable at any time by (1) signed and dated in writing; (2) oral statement to health care practitioner; (3) execution of subsequent directive; (4) destruction of directive.

Validity from State-to-State

Declaration executed out-of-state by nonresident is effective if declaration is in compliance with the laws of Maryland or the laws of the state where executed (to the extent permitted by the laws of Maryland)

If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney

Attending physician shall make every reasonable effort to transfer declarant to another health care provider; assist in transfer; and pending transfer, comply with competent individual or health care agent/surrogate for person incapable of making a decision if failure to comply would likely result in death of individual.

Immunity for Attending Physician

Any health care provider who withholds or withdraws health care or life-sustaining procedures in accordance with this subtitle and in good faith, is not subject to civil or criminal liability and may not be found to have committed professional misconduct

Maryland Living Wills Laws: Related Resources

Trying to plan for the future illness or death of a loved one is difficult. If you would like legal assistance in setting up a living will, you can contact a Maryland estate planning attorney. You can also find visit FindLaw’s living wills section for more articles and resources on this topic, including a sample living will form and a sample living will with designation of a surrogate form.

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