Modern life support systems can keep an individual's body alive for years, even if that person has no brain activity or is in constant pain.
As competent adults, we have a constitutional right to make decisions about whether or not we want life support to continue when death is imminent or when a coma or vegetative state becomes permanent.
A living will is a document that explains whether or not you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill and will die shortly without life support, or fall into a persistent vegetative state. It also addresses other important questions, detailing your preferences for tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain medication in certain situations. A living will becomes effective only when you cannot communicate your desires on your own.
A living will can emphasize your desire to remain on life support. As the Terri Schiavo case demonstrated, it is essential to put your wishes in writing, no matter what they are. If you want to create a binding living will, LegalZoom can help.