A Living Will, unlike your Last Will and Testament, is used while you are still alive. Your Living Will goes into effect when your doctor states you are no longer able to make medical decisions for yourself.
What It Does
Your Living Will is a place to state all of your wishes regarding your medical care. You can dictate what types of treatment you are willing to accept if you should become terminally ill or unable to speak for yourself due to injury or incapacitation. You can use your Living Will to leave instructions regarding how long you wish to be left on life support, your accepted terminal illness treatments, and your desires regarding resuscitation.
What It Doesn’t Do
A Living Will is cannot speak for any medical circumstance that you have not included in this document. If you wish to have an actual person make medical decisions for you in the event of your mental disability or other incapacity, you may use a Medical Power of Attorney instead. One advantage to using a Medical Power of Attorney is that your POA can make real time decisions regarding your care. This allows your loved ones to seek medical treatment advances that have occurred since you last updated your estate documents. Your power of attorney can seek new treatments if they may be beneficial to you.
Why Use a Living Will
Family members may hold onto hope of your recovery even when it is not feasible. When you use a Living Will to dictate your medical wishes, you can avoid terminal illness treatments that may be more harmful or painful than good. You can also dictate removal of life support when chances of recovery are slim. Terminal health care decisions can be hard for your family in their time of grief. A Living Will allows you to make these tough decisions for your loved ones.