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Living Wills

Help with your living will declaration

A living-will declaration is a type of legal document which sets forth explicit guidelines for long-term and life-sustaining healthcare interventions. Living wills are intended to provide specific directions for family members and healthcare providers in the event that an accident, illness or other health condition leaves you unable to make or express such directions on your own.

If, for example, you are in an accident or develop an incurable medical condition that requires you to be kept alive through artificial means, and you would prefer not to have your life sustained in such a manner, a living will gives your family and your caregivers the information they need to act accordingly. Because they serve this purpose, living wills are sometimes also called advance healthcare directives.

How Living Wills Work

A living-will declaration spells out very particular sets of circumstances under which your directives would take effect. Unless you end up in exactly the type of situation described in your living will, its provisions aren't binding. For example, if your living will declared that you do not wish to be kept alive by artificial means because of injuries sustained in an accident, and you develop a terminal medical condition that leaves you incapacitated and on life support, the so-called "plug" would not be pulled.

Creating a Living Will Declaration

It is important to note a distinction between a living will and power of attorney. A living will draws solely on your orders and uses only judgments you made while of sound mind; power of attorney, on the other hand, authorizes another individual to make these decisions on your behalf.

While you can create free living wills using a standardized living wills form, you should have an attorney help you put pen to paper if you have specific, complex or conditional directives. It is obviously very important to ensure there is no ambiguity in your living-will declaration that could cause any kind of confusion whatsoever. Thus, while it's fairly easy to create an online living will through various Internet services, unless you have very straightforward and indisputable preferences, it's also a good idea to have an attorney oversee the process.

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