Introduction to Living Wills
Thinking about why you might need a living will is difficult, but it is a very important subject to consider. With advances in medical science, it is often possible to keep someone technically alive indefinitely. A situation can also arise in which a person becomes permanently unconscious, but is not going to die as long as food and water are provided. Either condition can place a burden—both emotionally and financially—upon the person's loved ones.
Some people believe that all human life is sacred and that life should be preserved at all costs. Others believe that certain steps should be taken to preserve life, but some steps should not be taken. Regardless of the view you take, it may one day be important that your family members and doctors know your opinion. You can make your beliefs and desires known through a living will.
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.