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What is a living will?

Living will definition: A living will, commonly referred to as an advance directive, is a document that provides instructions regarding end-of-life care. Living wills allow you to make your own choices about life support and helps prevent confusion about the type of care you do or do not want in the event you become incapable of communicating your wishes. Without a living will, the laws in your state will determine who will make your health care decisions.

How a living will can make a difference

Make Choices about Life Support in a Living Will

Make your own choices for life support.

Provide instructions about the care you do or don't want at the end of your life.

Put Your Wishes in Writing by Creating a Living Will - Living Wills Prevent Confusion and Disagreements

Help prevent confusion or disagreements.

Your wishes are in writing. No one can legally override the decisions you've already made.

Health Care Power of Attorney Included - Receive a Health Care Power of Attorney When You Make a Living Will

Includes a health care power of attorney.

You can also choose someone you trust to speak for you on health care matters.

What happens if I don't have an advance directive?

Your state's law says who'll make your health care decisions if you don't have an advance directive. If no one is designated, a judge might decide who gets to make those decisions, and that person would do so without written guidance from you.

Learn more about living wills

What choices can I make?

You can choose to have your life prolonged as much as reasonably possible by procedures like tube feeding or mechanical respiration. Or you can say you don't want to be kept alive by artificial means. You also can name someone to be in charge of making sure your wishes are honored, and to make other health care decisions for you.

Are there decisions that can't be made for me?



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Last Will & Testament OR Living Trust
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Common Questions

Who can make a living will?
Generally, anyone who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind can create one. "Sound mind" usually means the ability to understand what the document is and what it contains.
When does my living will go into effect?
Your living will takes effect when it's determined that you're in a severe medical condition defined by your state's law, with no hope of recovery, and unable to communicate your wishes. If you name someone to be in charge of your medical decisions unrelated to life support, the document goes into effect when you can't make decisions for yourself.
How will my doctor decide that I can't make decisions for myself?
Doctors usually determine you've lost decision-making ability if you can't understand your treatment choices or communicate your wishes in any way.
Does my living will include a DNR?
A living will spells out whether you want to be resuscitated in certain circumstances, but it's not a DNR. A do not resuscitate order is a separate document prepared in consultation with, and signed by, your doctor. You can't create a DNR without a doctor's consent, and LegalZoom doesn't provide them.
Once I sign my advance directive, is my task done?
Not necessarily. You should also have a discussion with your doctor, family and health care agent to make sure they understand your wishes. You may also need to update it if your health or family status changes, or to name a new health care agent.

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Questions and answers

This public forum is not intended to provide legal advice and is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Unless specifically indicated, the content is not drafted, supported, or vetted by LegalZoom. It is simply a place for customers to help customers. If you need legal advice, LegalZoom can connect you to a licensed and independent attorney. If you are providing answers, please do not provide legal advice if you are not qualified or licensed to do so.

Order a Living Will Online with LegalZoom

A living will, also referred to as advance directive, protects your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions for you without your guidance and ensures your end-of-life wishes are granted. A living will allows you to set out the types of treatment you want or don't want, and name someone to make sure your wishes are honored in the event you are not able to make decisions for yourself. You should create a living will if you want to specify your wishes so they are more likely to be carried out, you are facing the possibility of surgery or hospitalization, you have been diagnosed with a terminal condition, or you want to include it in your estate plan, along with your last will or living trust and financial power of attorney. LegalZoom's online living will process was developed by experienced attorneys from some of the most prestigious law firms in the U.S. The process of creating a living will with LegalZoom begins with an easy-to-understand questionnaire. We then review your answers, create your living will package and send the package to you. When you make a living will through LegalZoom, you'll receive a free health care power of attorney and special provisions including directives for organ donation. LegalZoom living wills are backed by a $50,000 Peace of Mind Guarantee

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