Living Will

A living will, also called an advance directive, is a document that allows you to specify the kind of medical treatment you want — or don’t want — if you are seriously ill or you are unable to communicate, and are unlikely to be able to do so in order to make your preferences known. In a living will, you should be as specific as possible about the kinds of drugs and medical procedures you have in mind and the situations under which they should — or should not — be used.
All states recognized living wills but the laws of each state are different, so it’s important that the living will document you sign and intend to have enforced meets local requirements. One issue that may arise, for example, is whether a hospital will respect your wish not to receive food and water. Some states require that you receive nutrition as long as you are alive (this may involved surgical installation of a feeding tube). Other states allow nutrition and fluids to be withdrawn, if that’s what you’ve specified in your living will.
Since professional healthcare providers generally choose to prolong life when possible–and are sometimes required by law to prolong life indefinitely unless you specify otherwise–, you probably don’t need a living will if you agree with that approach–but consider the consequences carefully. If you’re opposed to extraordinary measures to keep you alive, such as mechanical respirators, intravenous or gastric-tube feeding, and similar technical methods of prolonging life (but is that living?), you should prepare a living will, and ask two people to witness it.
Ensure also that your family and your doctor know that you’ve signed a living will and where they can find a copy. Better still, provide copies to your doctor, a trusted friend or relative, and to any care facility or case management involved in your care.
Standard forms are available, so you don’t need an attorney to draw up the document. But if you’re in the process of preparing a regular will, you can sign both kinds at once, probably for little or no additional charge. Otherwise, you can get a standard form to fill in, or a model to copy.
Ask your healthcare provider or hospital staff for a form. They usually have a standard form used in the particular institution.


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