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A living will, also called a healthcare directive, differs from a traditional will as it applies to someone who is still alive. It allows you to specify how you are to be treated if you become unable to make your own healthcare decisions. In addition to terminal illness or injury situations, most states permit you to express your preferences as to treatment using life-sustaining equipment and/or tube feeding for medical conditions that leave you permanently unconscious and without detectable brain activity.
For example, you can direct that medical personnel not resuscitate you if you lose consciousness. Since this is a life and death situation you should not take this decision lightly.
Depending on state law, this document may permit you to do some or all of the following:
- Express whether or not you wish to be given life-sustaining treatments in the event you are terminally ill or injured,
- Decide in advance whether you wish to be provided food and water via intravenous devices (“tube feeding”),
- Give other medical directions that impact the end of life.
Living Will Attorneys
A living will attorney will help you figure out exactly what your wishes are and make sure your living will clearly reflects that. Some states have strict guidelines that must be observed when creating a living will. Failure to adhere to such guidelines will void your living will.
Why You Should Hire a Living Will Attorney
If you retain an experienced attorney to draft your living will, you can avoid the risk of your wishes not being honored. A well written living will is the best tool for ensuring that you are treated the way you would like to be treated if you become incapable of telling medical personnel or your loved ones what you want.