What is a Living Will? (in-depth)

A living will is sometimes called an advance directive or a medical directive, and it specifies a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging medical procedures and other end-of-life issues. If a person is in a coma, for instance, it is intended to provide instructions for their care, including whether or not to use oxygen or “feeding tubes” to keep them alive.

This might require a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) waiver of some kind, which tells medical staff not to intervene if the person is dying. The living will is different than the “will” that most people are familiar with, which is a Last Will and Testament, stipulating the person’s wishes for their estate after he or she has died.

It might give a person Medical Power of Attorney, also known as Healthcare Power of Attorney, to make decisions on your behalf as your attorney-in-fact or agent. A general power of attorney will work to allow someone to take care of your financial affairs and so forth, but it will not allow them to make decisions for you medically.

It might also discuss organ and tissue donation. Many people do not include this document in their plan even though every good advisor and attorney would recommend it. These sorts of decisions are very difficult ones for loved ones to make, as they grapple with many emotions in such situations.

What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?
What is a Living Trust?
What is Form 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative?