Living Will Choices

Living Will Choices

In its most basic form, a living will says, "If I become terminally ill or injured, I do not want any artificial means used that will only delay my death." This is still the basic language used by many of the states that have created living will forms. The use of these forms is optional in most states. Over the years, more issues have arisen, resulting in slightly more complex language being used. These issues include:

  • conditions of permanent unconsciousness, irreversible coma, or when death is not imminent;
  • conditions in which the burdens of treatment outweigh the expected benefits, but death is not imminent;
  • distinctions between various types of medical procedures;
  • providing food and water through feeding tubes or intravenously;
  • alternative provisions or exceptions if the person is pregnant;
  • organ donations; and,
  • covering the situation in which a person does want all possible measures taken to preserve life.

The types of provisions governing living wills vary by state and have been included in the language approved by some states. These choices are discussed more fully in the sections that follow.