What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is not really a will. Instead it is the document which states your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event that you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, are expected to die within a relatively short time, or when you are permanently unconscious, such as in a coma. This is the document whereby you decide if you want your medical treatment given, withheld or withdrawn in order to allow a natural death. A living will designates whether you want your family or designated healthcare surrogate to “pull the plug.”
You have the right to state in advance your instructions about your own health care so long as it does not violate state and federal law. It is important to have a Living Will so that your loved ones know your wishes concerning your medical care and only becomes effective once you are no longer able to make and communicate your own decisions. If you suffer a stroke, are in an accident and rendered unconscious, or have a severe brain injury, you may not be able to communicate.
If you have completed a living will make sure to provide a copy to your doctors, family, and healthcare surrogate and let them know where your original is located. Sometimes families will fight over care if their loved one does not have a living will. All of this can be avoided. The easiest way to avoid this and to ensure you wishes are carried out is to have a living will. Having stated your desires in advance you can avoid putting your loved ones in the position of making these decisions for you.