What is a Living Will? Why Do I Need One?

A Living Will allows you to detail in writing your wishes regarding future medical care and specific treatment. Specifically, this article provides directives with respect to terminal care and end of life decisions.

For example, items set forth in your Living Will can include the following:

  • whether you would like to remain on life support machines
  • whether you wish CPR to be used
  • whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated
  • whether you would prefer to be an organ donor

In general, a Living Will expresses your choices about specific medical treatment and health care in the event of incapacity or terminal care. The Durable Power of Attorney gives more general power to the person you appoint regarding health care decisions.

While end of life decisions can be made by an agent appointed through a Durable Power of Attorney, many individuals prefer to express these specific wishes in writing. This avoids confusion among loved ones about when to end life sustaining treatment. In addition, a living will can also prevent disputes that may occur when family members disagree over issues like the duration a loved one should be kept on life support.

Preparation of these documents will ensure that you have already answered these difficult questions and relieved your loved ones from having to make these difficult decisions so they can focus on what matters most: time together.