The Necessity of a Living Will

Some young adults may put off creating any type of will because they assume wills are a concern for senior citizens or the wealthy. A living will, however, doesn't involve citing who will receive your money or property the way a conventional will does. A living will outlines the type of medical care you want to receive if you are seriously ill or injured and can’t speak for yourself.

Main Purpose

A living will can go by several names. Medical professionals, for example, may refer to this legal document as a health care declaration, a health care directive or an advance directive. In any case, a living will outlines how much you want a doctor to do to sustain your life at any age. The main reason to have the will is to ensure you don't endure medical treatments you consider intolerable.

Quality of Life

Think about how your quality of life would change if a doctor had to put you on a mechanical ventilator. The ventilator would take over your breathing. You could use a living will to say how long you'd want to be on a ventilator and other life-sustaining medical devices. For instance, you could cite whether you would want a ventilator removed if you could never breathe on your own again.

Family Considerations

Living wills spare spouses and other family members from having to figure out what the victim wants. Families have ended up in court battles when an incapacitated family member doesn't have a living will and his spouse and parents disagree about his medical care. After you create a living will, contact the people closest to you to discuss the details. Make it clear you expect them to abide by your wishes concerning your medical care. They may be reluctant to follow the instructions of the living will if they haven't discussed them with you in person.

Making a Living Will

Forms and instructions for the living wills in each state are available on websites such as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization site. You can hire an attorney to make a living will, but that isn't required according to a 2011 report by the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic report recommends people give a copy of their living will to their doctors and family members. You also should give a copy to someone you want to be your health care agent. That person makes any medical decisions that aren’t included in your living will if you’re unable to do so.


About the Author

Frances Burks has more than 15 years experience in writing positions, including work as a news analyst for executive briefings and as an Associated Press journalist. Burks has banking and business development experience, and she has written numerous articles on consumer issues and home improvement. Burks holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.