A LIVING WILL is a legal document that tells others what your personal choices are about end-of-life medical treatment. It outlines the procedures or medications you want, or don’t want, to extend your life if you’re unable to communicate with the doctors yourself. This could be because you are unconscious from an accident or other event, in a medically-induced coma, or perhaps had a stroke or heart attack and on life support.
Living Will Questions
The short answer is normally no. An agent designated by a durable power of attorney cannot make decisions that go against your living will. However, the issue becomes moot if you designated the agent to be your health care representative. When creating the living will and setting up a health care power of attorney, be sure to discuss all of your decisions with the designated agent to ensure he or she doesn’t attempt to overrule the choices set forth in the living will.
No. Family members cannot override the decisions you previously made when you signed the living will. This is common when family later decide for or against organ donations. The medical professionals must adhere to the conditions you stipulated in the living will. Emotions often run high when a loved one is nearing the end of live. Family members may attempt to contest the living will and try to have doctors perform (or not perform) life-sustaining treatments upon which you already decided in the living will. The living will is one way to make sure your personal choices are known in advance and followed during end-of-life decisions.
Technically, yes. A living will is a type of Advance Directive. See our answer below on the difference between a living will vs advance directive. As a matter of technicality, all living wills are Advance Directives but not all Advance Directives are living wills.
Absolutely not. A living will and last will and testament are two totally different legal documents. The living will allows you to decide ahead of time what type of medical treatments you want or don’t want during the end of life. It details medical procedures you may or may not want performed as well as your decision on organ and tissue donation. The last will and testament outlines how you want your estate to be disbursed after you die.
A living will is a detailed set of instructions regarding your choices for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. These decisions should be made in advance when you are in a clear state of mind. The most common decisions that you should be sure to cover in the living will include, but are not limited to:
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Antibiotics or antiviral medications
Comfort care (palliative care)
Organ and tissue donation
Donating your body for scientific research
Resuscitate/Do Not Resuscitate
Intubate/Do Not Intubate
Living wills are different than medical power of attorney forms, although a living will often incorporates a power of attorney. A medical power of attorney appoints someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf, regardless of your physical or mental state. A living will is called different things from state to state. The term living will is sometimes used interchangeably with advance directive or advanced health care directive. Be sure to find out exactly which term is used in your state.
Living trusts are sometimes set up as conditions of a will. They may be created while the grantor is still alive. Grandparents might want to make distributions to their children and grandkids before they pass away. A living trust can also be created for the benefit of the grantor. A person might create a trust and receive regular payments for the rest of his or her life while financial benefits are also distributed to family members, friends, or charitable businesses.
Most of the living will forms are available in Microsoft Word and PDF. A few are available in PDF only. All of our living will forms were obtained from a recognized state health care organization or reputable health care institution. A few of the PDFs were created with weird formatting that we were unable to convert to Word.