Living Will

Living wills are important legal documents that help individuals facing end-of-life situations by giving them the right to choose their actions despite their current situations. So, give guidance to your physicians and medical staff, as well as closure to your loved ones by reducing their burden at the time of your death with living wills. living-will

Table of Content

Living Will Definition & Meaning

A living will is a formal written document that provides instructions regarding the end-of-life care of a patient. 

A living will outline and details specific directives as to whether or not to provide or cease any life-sustaining or preserving medical treatment. 

What Is A Living Will?

A living will is typically accompanied by a power of attorney (i.e., the appointment of a designated person to act on the patient’s behalf). It is sometimes referred to as an advance medical directive. If a patient can present or produce a legal living will, doctors and healthcare providers are typically bound by law to heed its instructions. 

10 Types Of Living Will

Medical Living Will

A medical living will is also sometimes referred to as an advance medical directive. Although it is optional, preparing a living will can not only prevent future inconvenience and conflict, but it is also a way of affording you more control of your end-of-life plan. You can either create one yourself or have a professional- such as an attorney- draft a living will for you.   


Legal Living Will

If you do decide to write an advance medical directive, you need to ensure that it is a legal living will. Securing your document’s legality assures that it will be recognized by the state or federal government. Most people prefer to have their living wills drafted or written by a legal practitioner or professional. 


Last Living Will

It is important to distinguish a living will from a last living will and testament. The latter normally takes effect after the individual has passed away; while a living will is valid when the person is still alive. A last will and testament is an instructional document that can cover several areas including property or asset management, heirs, legal guardianship, etc.


Medical Care Living Will

A medical care living will is a document that informs and advises healthcare practitioners of a patient’s medical decisions or preferences. A living will is also known as an advance medical directive; thus, whatever is instructed on the document must be respected by a doctor or any health professional. Some common medical care directives include DNR (do not resuscitate), organ donation, pain management, etc.    


Rhode Island Living Will

The New England state of Rhode Island on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States has its own laws regarding living wills and advance medical directives. The State’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act makes it possible for patients to decide whether or not to continue or withhold life-sustaining treatment. These instructions or directives must be specified and documented in a legal Rhode Island living will.


Pennsylvania Living Will

If you can present a legal Pennsylvania living will, you are entitled to name or appoint another individual as your health care power of attorney. This living will also detail what type of life preservation methods you want or do not want to be performed on you. If you are unsure of how to proceed with drafting your living will, it is best to check with your state laws first or consult a legal officer.    


North Carolina Living Will

If you are a resident of the state of North Carolina, the law recognizes a living will or an advance directive. If you are able to present or produce this legal document, it will inform and instruct your physician or health care provider of your medical directives. The North Carolina living will template below outlines various terms and conditions regarding life support and other end-of-life decisions.


New York Living Will

In the state of New York, it is important for your living will to contain detailed directions and for it to be duly signed by a witness. You do not necessarily need to have your New York living will be notarized for it to be considered legal. However, having a duly appointed health care proxy in addition to your living will is recommended.  


Maryland Living Will

If you live in Maryland, you can create a living will to prepare for possible end-of-life scenarios or emergency situations. A living will is a legal and instructional document that outlines your wishes or preferences with regard to medical care. The template below is a State of Maryland living will that contains sample directives on medical procedures and life-sustaining treatment.   


Georgia Living Will

A State of Georgia living will instructs your doctor or health care provider as to the kind of treatment or medical care you want or do not want. The document is basically an advance medical directive. If you find yourself unable to make sound decisions as you face an end-of-life situation, a legal living will is there to provide medical instructions and directions.   


Living Will Uses, Purpose, Importance

Unlike a last will and testament, the objectives of a living will are different from that of a last will. If you are still considering writing up a living will, the following are compelling reasons enough for you to do so.  

Anticipation and Preparation

The fundamental truth is that people don’t know how exactly much time they have on earth. A living will give you the space and opportunity to prepare accordingly for this reality. Whether or not you want to prolong your life as much as you can or hold different beliefs, having a living will can help you anticipate and deal with potential end-of-life scenarios.

Promotes Clarity

By all accounts, a living will give a clear directive as to the kind of medical decisions you may have to face. By establishing clear instructions and plans, you are not only making it more convenient for yourself but also for your health care provider and loved ones. In addition, living will promote decisiveness and could prevent potential misunderstandings and confusion.

Peace of Mind

Having a living will offer some peace of mind to family members if ever they do find themselves in such a situation. You can spare your loved ones the difficult choice of deciding to hold on or let go. Knowing you have a legal living will ready can also bring peace of mind to yourself.  

Reinforces Legal Rights

Most states have laws in place that protect an individual’s right to decide. This pro-choice belief also extends to medical care and treatment. A legal living will document helps reinforce this constitutional right of allowing or refusing life-sustaining treatment.  

Informs and Guides Healthcare Providers

A living will is essentially an advance medical directive that a person prepares in case they cannot make sound decisions in the future. The medical directive provides information and guidelines to doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, and other healthcare personnel regarding a patient’s medical preferences in end-of-life scenarios. Healthcare providers are normally bound or obligated to respect and fulfill the patient’s wishes.

What’s In A Living Will? Parts?

Declarant’s Information

A living will needs to contain the complete name and address of the one issuing the document. You can likewise include a brief description or introductory statement outlining the purpose of the living will.

Medical Directives

This section needs to be enumerated clearly and it must be specific as possible. Common medical directives include organ donation, DNR (do not resuscitate), and life support.  

Power of Attorney

The power of attorney is a critical section of a living will. It recognizes and grants authority to a designated individual, agent, or representative to act and make medical decisions on the patient’s behalf. 

Witness Line or Notary Public

Depending on state laws and other legal nuances, a living will typically contain a witness line and may or may not be notarized. One or two witnesses may be required to sign the living will in order to authenticate the document.   


How To Design A Living Will?

1. Choose a living will size.

2. Identify the purpose of the living will.

3. Select a living will template.

4. Indicate your complete name and address.

5. Enumerate your medical directives.

6. Appoint a designated person under a power of attorney and sign. 


Living Will vs Healthcare

A living will is an advance medical directive created by a patient or individual to show or submit to a healthcare provider.

Healthcare is a broad field of service that provides organized medical care to individuals and communities. 

What’s The Difference Between a Living Will, Power of Attorney, and a Living Trust?

A living will is a legal and formal document that contains medical directives regarding end-of-life treatment and care.

A power of attorney is a legal authorization bestowed on an individual to act on behalf of another individual in making medical decisions, legal decisions, financial decisions, and similar matters.

A living trust is a legal document containing instructions and final wishes with regard to a grantor’s transfer or management of assets and property.

Living Will Sizes

To create your living will, you need to settle on the appropriate size first. Since it is a formal document, it is best to stick to the standard living will sizes.  

  • US Letter  (8.5 × 11 Inches)
  • A4 (8.3 × 11.7 Inches)living-will-sizes-788x499

Living Will Ideas & Examples

Every federal state has its own set of laws with regard to living wills. Before you start drafting your own living will ensure first that you read up on your state’s laws and make sure to check these living will ideas while you’re at it as well.  

  • Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Maine Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Louisiana Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Guardianship Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Medical Directive Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Nebraska Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Illinois Living Will Ideas  and Examples
  • Hawaii Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • New Mexico Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Florida Living Will Ideas and Examples
  • Medical Living Will Ideas and Examples


Who needs a living will?

Elderly people, those who are nearing the end of their life (e.g., people who suffer from a terminal illness, etc.), or essentially anyone who wants to get a head start on their end-of-life planning.

What does a living will include?

A living will include the individual or declarant’s information, medical directives and decisions, other final wishes, and an oath and signature.

What is better than a living will?

A living trust has multiple benefits that a living will may not necessarily cover, including asset management.

What is true of a living will?

A living will is an advanced medical directive containing your healthcare preferences if it comes to a point where you can no longer make decisions yourself.

Why should all adults have a living will?

All adults ought to have a living will to prevent any potential inconvenience in the future and also to promote clarity in executing medical decisions.

What is the cost of making a living will?

If you are not drafting the living will yourself, the average price range can fall anywhere between $500 to $1,000.

Who do I trust to carry out my directives in a living will?

A trusted family member, a close friend, or your attorney are usually the best candidates to carry out your living will.

What to ask before writing a living will?

Before writing your living will, you need to ask yourself what kind of medical directives you want to be performed on you at the end of life, and if you are comfortable with the consequences of these decisions.

What is probate in a living will?

Probate is a legal process wherein an individual’s living will or last will and testament are validated and recognized.

What does the doctor do differently when a patient has a living will?

If a patient is able to produce a legal living will, the doctor or health care provider is obligated to respect the patient’s decision and apply their preferred care or treatment.

How will a hospital know that an unconscious patient has a living will?

The hospital would need to consult the unconscious patient’s nearest kin, legal representative, or other family members.