By the time you need a living will, it will be too late to create one. A living will, or advance directive, specifies how your medical treatment should be handled if you are unable to state your wishes yourself. Under the law, a family member will usually have the right to make those decisions if you are incapable, but a living will makes sure that your wishes are met.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Research the laws that cover living wills, or advance directives, in your state. A good place to start is your state's official website.
Locate an appropriate living will form for your state. You can also get an advance directive from LegalZoom and fill it out online.
Specify which treatments you wish to be given or withheld if you are terminally ill or in a vegetative state. A living will can cover artificial resuscitation, artificial respiration, feeding and blood transfusions.
Think about other possible medical events and include these in the living will. You cannot foresee everything, but if you create this document, your family will have a guide to your wishes.
Include the name of someone who is authorized to make medical decisions for you. Include contact details for this person. If no one is specified, doctors will consult with close family members.
Sign and date your living will and get it notarized. If you change your mind and write a new living will, destroy all of the old copies. Keep your living will in a safe place and let your family know where it is.
Tips & Warnings
- If you don't feel competent to create a living will yourself, hire a lawyer.
- Some states may only allow living wills to be used for terminally ill or comatose patients.