A living will, also known as a ‘health care directive’, ‘advance directive’, or a ‘declaration’, is a form used for a person to give their rights as to how they would like to manage their end of life treatment. Mostly, the document is used to establish that if a person is to become in a vegetative state with death imminent that the individual would like to have food, water, and any artificial breathing be turned off and let them have a natural death.

Living Will vs Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney, also referred to as a ‘health care proxy’, is a form that allows a person to choose someone else be able to handle one’s health care intentions and decision-making. This only goes into affect, much like a living will, only if the patient becomes incapacitated and cannot think with a clear mind for themselves. The benefit of this over the living will is that not all medical treatment options are black and white. And with new medical advancements occurring every year this form gives a patient’s loved one to carefully assess the situation before giving the order to stop feeding and/or breathing with the patient.

In some States these forms are combined and usually called an ‘Advance Health Care Directive’. The principal may decide to elect to have an agent represent their needs in this instance or to just have their desires written and filed with their primary care physician.

Forms by State