How to Make a Living Will

How to Make a Living Will

A living will is indispensable to ensure that one's desire for receiving or desisting medical treatment is communicated to the health care provider. One needs to be acquainted with medical procedures and legal implications in order to make a living will.
OpinionFront Staff
An advance directive plan refers to drafting a living will in addition to preparing a medical power of attorney for health care. Living wills are legal documents wherein people make physicians aware of their wishes regarding prolonging life, in case they are incapacitated on account of debilitating health conditions or brain damage, that may result in inducing a permanent vegetative state, thus preventing them from deciding for themselves and/or communicating their decisions to others. It states whether one chooses to receive or prefers to refrain from receiving certain medical treatments, when the use of life-sustaining treatment, that may help keep one in a vegetative state, is the only option since cure for the prevailing medical condition is non-existent. Say, a person is in coma and the chances of regaining consciousness are slim. In this case, a physician, who has the notarized copy of the living will, can decide on the appropriate course of action. Drafting a will requires considerable foresight to predict circumstances that will arise in course of time and illustrate one's preferences in various scenarios.

A durable/medical power of attorney allows a person (principal) to entrust the task of taking medical decisions to an attorney-in-fact. An attorney-in-fact is the person who is named in the written power of attorney document to act on behalf of the principal. A medical power of attorney for health care is a legally enforceable document that authorizes a person to take health care decisions on our behalf. The purview of this document is broader than that of a living will, since the latter is limited to delegating the decision-making power in case of terminal conditions while the former can be used to address a vast array of health care decisions in addition to life-sustaining treatment.

Legal living will and trust are entirely different, since a living trust is a mechanism for avoiding probate by setting up a trust and transferring the property so that in the event of demise of the grantor/settler/donor, the trustee can transfer the ownership of the property to the trust beneficiaries.

Making a Living Will

Drafting a living will without the aid of a legal professional can be quite a challenge. One needs to be acquainted with the state laws before embarking on this ambitious project. Although one need not be an expert in the field of medicine, it would help to be familiar with medical procedures that are commonly administered to patients who are critically ill. Doing so will help one realize the importance of including or eliminating certain procedures from the living will. Generally, one would need to fill out information regarding the use of life-prolonging treatments, viz. use of a respirator, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), blood transfusions, dialysis, and administration of life-sustaining drugs. The form for preparing a living will can be downloaded from the Internet. Some websites give the visitors the option of filling out a questionnaire that is used to prepare a living will. The visitor can then purchase the will provided it meets his/her specifications.

One is allowed to change the terms of the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care. One can make a living will by hiring the services of a lawyer. This may make life easy since one has to state one's wishes and the professional can be expected to comply, in accordance with the law.