What Is a Living Will?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
A living will is the name given to a document in which you can set out the nature and extent of the treatment you would like to receive if circumstances ever arise in which you can’t communicate, perhaps because of a stoke, or coma.
In your living will you can express a desire for extensive and heroic treatment to keep you alive, no matter what, regardless of the circumstances. On the other hand your living will can say that if your doctors conclude you’re in a terminal situation, without any reasonable possibility of recovery, they can let you go by stopping artificial feeding or take you off a respirator, and only keep you comfortable. It’s what you would want – if you can not communicate your own wishes.
By the way, the names may resemble each other, but there is a big difference between a living will and a regular will or a living trust. They provide for distribution and management of your property. A living will provides instructions on the type of medical treatment and care you’d prefer.
A living will is very different from a regular will. A regular will specifies who gets your property on death. A living will is also very different from a living trust that provides a way to hold and manage your assets while you are alive and distribute then after your death. However, just as in the case of a traditional will, each state has its own rules specifying whether or not your signature is sufficient, or if you need witnesses or notarization for the living will to be effective.
In addition to a living will, it is useful to have a second document called a health care power of attorney or a health care proxy that deals with your health care. Health care powers of attorney are the subject of additional videos and articles on FreeAdvice.com.