A living will lets you specify decisions about artificial life support in advance. It not only ensures your wishes will be heard, but also protects your loved ones from having to make these difficult, deeply personal choices for you.
I was able to get my documents in a timely manner before I had major surgery...I don't know why I waited so long!!
Theresa S., Dayton, OH
Generally, anyone who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind can create a living will. In this context, "sound mind" usually means the ability to understand what the living will is, what it contains, and what it does.
Your living will takes effect when your doctors determine that you are seriously ill. Those circumstances also vary by state law. They include being in an irreversible coma or being terminally ill with no reasonable chance of recovery, and can't make decisions for yourself.
If you prepared a health care power of attorney, it takes effect when your doctors determine that you are unable to make health care decisions on your own.
This varies from state to state, but doctors tend to evaluate the following types of factors in determining whether or not you can make decisions for yourself:
After your doctor has made this determination, most states require this decision be explained in writing before any medical treatment decision can be made.
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