What is a living will?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2023 | Estate Planning

If you are like most people, you assume that wills only come into play once you pass away. While this is the case for many people, some individuals may require directives before they die.

If you should become seriously ill or injured to the point where you cannot make decisions for yourself, you may need a document that informs your loved ones of your wishes regarding medical care. According to the National Institute on Aging, said document is called a “living will,” or “advanced directive.”

A living will

A living will, which some people refer to as an advanced directive, informs interested parties of your medical choices and wishes in certain situations. The purpose of this document is to tell medical teams what treatments, care or lifesaving measures you want them to perform and when, and which ones you want them to avoid, when you are unable to relay your wishes yourself.

Decisions covered in a living will

A living will can and should address as many possible medical situations that you may encounter in your life. However, most living wills cover, at a minimum, the following issues:

  • When doctors should perform CPR and for how long
  • When doctors should turn off pacemakers and ICDs after performing other lifesaving measures
  • Whether you want medical teams to keep you alive with artificial hydration and nutrition and, if so, for how long
  • Whether you want breathing assistance through a ventilator and, if so, for how long

Other possible issues your advance directive may address include organ and tissue donation, transplants and the like.

A living will can prove to be a hugely beneficial document at some point in your life. To ensure it communicates your wishes wholly and clearly, however, seek guidance when creating your document.