An Advance Healthcare Directive (Living Will) is a signed, written document that communicates to others, under certain medical circumstances, what care you would like to receive, or not receive, should you be mentally impaired or unable to communicate.
It can only be followed if you are diagnosed, in writing, by one or more attending doctor(s) to be either in a terminal condition or, in a permanent unconscious condition as certified by two physicians.
A Healthcare Directive can provide physicians and hospital staff with the direction needed for making important treatment decisions such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, cardioversion (electrical heart stimulation), intubation, feeding tubes, catheterization and mechanical ventilation. Without a Healthcare Directive, as a matter of law, physicians could be forced to ignore your wishes or those of your family.
Spending our last days, weeks, months or even years attached to electronic devices can seem cold, lonely and unsettling to some. Others may prefer to utilize medical technology to extend their life. Unless you put your wishes in writing in advance, the decision may be made for you. This lack of clear direction can cause anguish for family members, and even result in arguments. Discuss the topic with your family and complete the necessary paperwork.
More and more people are realizing the importance of having signed Advance Healthcare Directive forms prepared while you're in good health, in case you become unable to make decisions regarding your own healthcare.
Make your wishes known to your family in case of an incapacitating accident or illness; download a PDF of the Personal Decision Workbook.