A Living Will Form Refers To A Legal Document That Defines Your End-Of-Life Medical Treatment Wishes. Read Further About Its Contents, Steps To Create, And The Cost Below.
A living will is a document that explains what types of medical care and treatment you want to receive when you’re not capable to speak about it. That’s why the document can possibly bring a peaceful mind to yourself and your loved ones. Nearly everyone can easily create one, especially by using a convenient living will form and leave their wishes on the care they want (or don’t want) to receive.
What is Living Will Form?
A living will is a legally-binding document that lays out someone’s wishes and decisions regarding their healthcare treatment. This document defines and explains to the doctors or physician about which care and treatment to sustain or end a life that you as the owner want to receive and which that you do not want to – when you’re no longer capable to communicate about your decisions due to some reasons such as being unresponsive or falling into a coma. The document defines clear instructions about how you want to be taken care of in times of emergency for other persons, including your family members.
Some examples of the wishes related to health and life support are surgical and medical treatments, mechanical ventilation, donation of organs, tube feeding, dialysis procedure, resuscitation.
The form is similar to Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) documents, but more general because it describes more than authorization for healthcare providers to execute life-saving procedures like CPR. The living will form is entirely different from the last will and testament document that explains how you wish your wealth and property to be distributed when you passed away because a living will clarify your wishes regarding medical care while you’re still living.
The living will document is considered as an advance directive in most states that allows a medical power of attorney to lets a trusted person create medical determinations on your account. That’s why this document is sometimes referred health care directive, advance health care directive, or advance medical directive as well.
What Can You Put in Your Living Will?
There is no overly strict rule on what medical care wishes that you’re allowed to put in your living will. You may include any instruction regarding the care types to give or not give for yourself.
An example of the instructions is your decision to be put on a ventilator or never be put on a ventilator when you physically require it. It is possible because anyone may have strong feelings about the treatment due to personal or religious reasons. Another example would be your preference to be brought back home to pass away there. You may be clear as you want to be so your loved ones will know about your exact wishes without having to guess them.
Here are the common types of medical care request that usually included in a living will form:
- Life prolonging treatments, which include respirator uses, surgery procedures, dialysis procedures, blood transfusions, diagnostic tests, CPR uses, and drug administrations.
- Nutrition and hydration, permanently unconscious patients may want to be given artificial food and water, while some don’t want to.
- Palliative care, which purpose is to reduce pain when a person decides to receive life-prolonging treatments.
How to Create a Living Will?
Here are five steps to make use of a living will form:
1. Download the form of a living will and then print it out
You may search and use online resources to get the standard form of a living will in various document formats like Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF.
2. Create an outline of your preferences regarding medical treatments
Determine how you wish the health providers to treat you in times of serious and urgent medical events. Consider if you prefer to be kept alive by receiving life-prolonging treatments or wish for death to naturally occurs.
Describe three of the primary treatment preferences below:
- Terminal Condition Preferences – during the near-death period due to illness or injury.
- Prolonged Vegetative State Preferences – during persistent conditions of being unconscious and unresponsive for a long time.
- End-of-Life Stage Preferences – for incurable and interminable conditions where your health deteriorates until passed away.
3. Set arrangements for non-medical matters
The living will document can also be used to make end-of-life arrangements regarding spiritual or religious matters. For example, it can be funeral customs or refusal to do blood transplantation and organ donor due to religious reasons.
4. Plan the actions of your representatives
It is an optional step of creating a living will document, where you allow the health care representative or agent of your medical power of attorney to use the document according to firm instructions sets or suggested guidelines.
5. Get a witness and notarize the document
After you have done with completing your preferences of medical and end-of-life treatments, the form has to be signed and notarized.
The requirements to legalize living will document vary according to your current state. The majority of the states let people decide between getting witness or notarized the document to make it authentic.
Note that there are some people that aren’t allowed to be your living will’s witnesses, such as:
- Anyone of your relatives either by blood or marriage
- Anyone who is mentioned within your last will and testament
- Anyone who has the possibility to inherit your properties
Whom Do I Send My Copy of A Living Will To?
You have done with creating a living will document and legalize it. Now, you have to send copies to important parties, which may be comprised of:
- Your main health care providers
- Your hospital where you received medical treatment
- Your medical powers of attorney or agents
- Your selected family members or closest friends
The list above contains institutions and individuals that may be able to assist your living will document with other related documents such as estate planning or medical records.
How Much Does A Living Will Cost?
If you choose to create your living will with the help of a lawyer, then you may expect the legal fees to cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. It may depend on the level of your financial situation complexity. On average, getting a lawyer to draft your living will document will cost you about $200 to $500, not including the notary fees.
If you prefer to obtain the form from the local hospital and notarize the document in the bank, it will cost about $10 to $15. You will be provided with a comprehensive template that allows you to list your physicians’ names along with emergency numbers to contact. It also allows you to address your specific medical care wishes in particular situations like pregnancy in case you become incapacitated.
As the last alternative, you are also able to make a free-living will document on your own by using online resources. It is the most cost-effective option out of all three mentioned here. Make sure you download the form through a reliable and credible source.
Is Creating A Living Will Really Necessary?
The necessity to create a living will document depends on your feeling about the chance of staying alive without being conscious. For example, in case you suffer from a serious case of dementia or went through a severe car accident.
You may want to consider making living will if you have a definite and strong opinion about life-prolonging procedures because some people aren’t entertained by the idea of depending on machines to stay alive, while some are the exact opposite.
Generally, having a living will provide you with peace of mind. You don’t need to worry if your loved ones not knowing your preferences and agonize about the decisions regarding life-support procedures.
Living Will Forms Free Printable Downloads
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) & Answers
Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Living Will?
Hiring a lawyer is not an obligation when writing a living will, but it is feasible if you want to get one.
How Do I Make A Living Will For Free?
Fill out the form of a living will by yourself. You may get the form from the hospital, estate attorney, or from trustworthy online resources. Note that the form has to be notarized whichever your source is.
How Do I Make A Living Will Legal?
After the process of making the document is completed, have it signed and notarized with witnesses. The legal requirements over living will depend on each state’s law.
What Happens If You Don’t Have A Living Will?
If you ever become incapacitated in the future, you won’t be able to make decisions. Without living will, your health care provider will ask the closest family members of yours for the decision that may create burden, disagreement, or rift.
What To Put In Your Living Will?
The living typically contains the order of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) of people that refuses to take certain medical treatment types (i.e.: life support or blood transfusions) when they fall into prolonged unconscious conditions.
Can Family Override Living Will?
It’s not possible for a family to override someone’s living will, as no one’s unable to take away the authority to make someone else’s decisions upon their own treatment and healthcare plans.
At last, it is recommended for every legal adult to utilize living will form. This way, the medical care providers will be able to provide treatments according to your wishes even when you’re not capable to communicate them.