Planning Ahead

Living Wills

Some of the most important and difficult decisions a person will ever make occur near the end of life. To many, the fear of a long and painful terminal illness is even worse than the fear of actually dying.

A Living Will -- also known as an Advance Directive -- simply gives the power to communicate a person's desire for a natural death long before they are unable to make health care decisions or express their wishes to loved ones and medical personnel. While planning for death is never a pleasant task, a Living Will removes the burden of making extremely painful end-of-life decisions from family.

Definition

A Living Will is a legal document that permits a person to make choices regarding future health care. It is often used in conjunction with a Power of Attorney for Health Care, a document in which an individual is appointed to make health care decisions in the event that a loved one is unable to make those decisions for themselves.

Through a Living Will, personal control is retained regarding prolonging life by defined medical procedures. It allows for very specific life-sustaining treatment to be given, or withheld entirely under certain specified circumstances.

Living Will documents can be obtained from a local office supply store or a legal professional.