A Living Will - commonly confused with an Advance Directive or Advance Health Care Directive - is a document that allows you to enforce your end-of-life medical treatment decisions. It specifies all of the actions that should be taken for your health and is meant to eliminate any misunderstanding if and when you are no longer able to speak for yourself due to a terminal illness or injury.
Fillable free Living Will forms and templates are available for download and digital filing through the links below. If you do not know where to begin, you can create your own Living Will using a customizable template. This form still needs to be signed in the presence of witnesses and notarized by a notary public to be legally effective. Always consult a lawyer if you have any difficulties with drafting any will-related paperwork.
What Is a Living Will?
A Living Will - not to be confused with a Last Will - is a legal document intended to clarify and ensure your wishes regarding health care and treatment in case of temporary or permanent incapacity. Most of them provide the option of choosing and appointing an agent to monitor that your wishes are carried out correctly. It is very important to select an agent who has your best interests at heart and will be comfortable with their future duties. A family member or close relative usually takes on the role of the health care agent, but that is not always the case. You can choose any legal adult - except for your doctor - or any other individual that is not directly involved in providing you with medical care.
It is strongly recommended to talk these plans over with your primary physician to make sure that they have no ethical and religious objections to following your instructions. Otherwise, the doctor may be forced to transfer your case to a colleague who has no reservations about these issues but who you may not be familiar with.
Living Will Forms by State
The specific Living Will forms vary in each of the fifty states. Though in many states even an unapproved will have a persuasive effect, it is strongly advised that all wills be made valid according to the laws of your state. Thus, it is important to check and update your paperwork in case you move to any other state for permanent residence.
Do I Need a Living Will?
Every of-age individual is strongly advised to have a Living Will. This document is your sole guarantee that the decisions made in sound mind will be respected in a situation when you may not be able to re-affirm them. This relates to medical treatment but may also include:
- Specific funeral plans you want to clarify beforehand;
- The wish to be attended by a priest or any other church representative;
- Instructions concerning organ or tissue donation, and any additional actions you want to specify.
What’s more, creating the actual document will relieve your family of the stress of making difficult and controversial decisions. Besides, in case you do not provide your relatives with the appropriate authority via an Advance Healthcare Directive, they will need to obtain a court order to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf.
How to Make a Living Will?
Individuals need to carefully think over and answer several crucially important questions when creating a Living Will:
- Are dialysis and blood transfusion an acceptable option?
- Should they be placed or kept on life support?
- Would they like to receive artificial nutrition in situations when you can not manage to eat or drink on your own?
- Would they like to receive comfort care? Comfort care is the end-of-life symptom management, meant to alleviate pain, breathing issues, digestive issues, and other common concerns. The location where this care will be provided can and should be chosen by the patient.
- Should a doctor perform CPR in cases of heart failure? This clause, commonly referred to as the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, states your individual preference on whether or not you would like to have the medical staff to do everything possible to keep your alive.
All of these questions should be thoroughly discussed beforehand with family and a health care professional.
Living Will Vs. Advance Directive
A person is advised to have both of them as comprehensive instructions for providing end-of-life medical care. In some cases, however, these two forms can be combined in one so-called advance health directive form. The Five Wishes format, created by Aging With Dignity (a US-based non-profit) can be considered as a simplified example of a document that combines a Living Will with a health care power of attorney.
Living Will Vs. Power of Attorney
Though both of these documents are intended to spell out your end of life decisions and appoint a person to make medical decisions on your behalf, they are in fact different. Actually, it is better to have both of them.
A Living Will can help you express your end-of-life wishes in detail. However, it is impossible to predict and pre-plan every situation and many people prefer to not go into details regarding the case. It is good to have a person you trust to be able to legally make decisions on your behalf when you are temporarily or permanently disabled.
The document that appoints this person is called a durable healthcare power of attorney. Unlike the agent assigned by a legal Living Will, who can only monitor how the wishes expressed in the will are performed, the agent defined by power of attorney has the authority to fully make decisions on your behalf. Keep in mind that the POA covers only situations of extreme medical necessity and lasts until you are capable to make your own decisions.
Download this Idaho legal document that spells out the medical treatments an individual would and would not want to be used to keep them alive. The form also clarifies the preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.
Use this legal document that specifies the type of medical care in Indiana that an individual does or does not want in the event they are unable to communicate their wishes. The will comes into play only when faced with a life-threatening condition and unable to assert specific desires regarding treatment.
Use this document, which is the patient's declaration - a written statement of what the patient expects to occur in the event of a serious accident or illness. It is primarily addressed for the medical personnel and focuses on the type of care the patient wishes to have in situations of terminal illness or incapacitation.
This form serves the purpose of determining major health care-related decisions in the state of Louisiana in case the person becomes temporarily or permanently severely disabled and is no longer able to make decisions.
Print out this will to pre-organize your health care in a potential scenario, prevent major arguments between your family members, control any necessary medical treatments and procedures and reduce potential extra medical bills.
This Tennessee-specific document is the patient's declaration - a written statement of what they want to occur in the event of a serious accident or illness. It is primarily addressed for the medical personnel and focuses on the type of care the patient wishes to have in situations of terminal illness or incapacitation.
Print out this Wisconsin-specific will to pre-organize your health care in a potential scenario, prevent major arguments between your family members, control any necessary medical treatments and procedures and reduce potential extra medical bills.
This form is used as part of the patient's medical records. It determines health care measures to be taken in the event of the patient's mental incapacity.
Fill out this legal document intended for ensuring and specifying an individual's end-of-life wishes regarding health care and treatment in the event of their permanent or temporary incapacity. Common reasons for a will include a decline in health, the possibility of surgery or hospitalization or getting diagnosed with a terminal condition.
Download this legal document called Maine Living Will that spells out the medical treatments an individual would and would not want to be used to keep them alive. The form also clarifies the preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.