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Living Will

  • A legal document that states your wishes in writing for what should happen when you need certain procedures to stay alive.
  • Gives medical professionals and your advocates information about life-sustaining procedures like forms of resuscitation, tubes for breathing or feeding, and the management of pain.

Why do I need this?

You may feel strongly about whether you want resuscitation or insertion of tubes if you are in a persistent vegetative state, or if you are likely to die soon. For good reason, it is very hard to block or end procedures that keep someone alive. A living will gives guidance about your wishes on this very serious matter and is all the more important if your loved-ones’ authority to carry out your wishes is more likely to be questioned, as it could be with same-sex partners.

How it works:

A living will is not a last will and testament. It is your wishes in writing for what should happen when you need certain procedures to stay alive. A living will gives medical professionals and your advocates information about life-sustaining procedures like forms of resuscitation, tubes for breathing or feeding, and the management of pain. Because it is guidance given in advance, it is often called an “advance directive.” Many hospitals even keep living will forms on hand. And in some states, the living will is incorporated into a power of attorney or health care proxy.

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