A Living Will is a term that is often used in conjunction with “Medical Directive”, “Medical Power of Attorney”, or “Health Care Directive”. It is a document that expresses the principal’s wishes for medical treatment in the case where he or she becomes incapacitated.
It is much more important than a mere statement of their wishes. It gives the agent the legal authority to make decisions in accordance with the principal’s wishes regarding the person’s health care. The Living Will needs to be created while the principal is still competent. It describes the principal’s intent in regard to life-support and other extraordinary medical treatment and care which artificially or technologically postpone death.
Be aware that an oral request by the principal to a physician, family member, or health care worker supersedes the signed agreement. It is strongly recommended that everyone have a Living Will because it relieves the burden on the family and makes decisions easier for everyone. It can also avoid the need to petition the Probate Court to appoint a Conservator for an incapacitated principal.
A Living Will can allow for a natural death process, if that is what the principal desires. It is recommended that the original document is stored in a secure place at home, or in a safe-deposit box if a trusted third-party can access the box. It is also recommended that you give copies to your doctor(s), patient advocate(s), and attorney(s).