If you want to make the decisions regarding your medical care even before the need arises, consider making a living will template or an advance directive form. This document is very useful, especially in times when you’re unable to communicate your wishes on your own for whatever reason. Each state has their own laws regarding what to include in your living will document. But in this article, we’ll discuss the general guidelines in making this document.

Of course, before you start drafting one for yourself, you should find out about the specific guidelines in your state so that you can follow them.

Living Will Templates

What is a living will?

A living will form is a document that’s used to describe how the family members of a person would make medical decisions when issues related to his health arise. This is especially true if the person deals with a life-threatening illness or condition.

For instance, if a person has already fallen into a permanent vegetative state, should he remain on life support? A living will template would easily answer such a question since it would contain the directions which have come directly from the person himself.

Living wills are usually associated with the elderly but anyone more than 18 years of age can already make their living will since unfortunate circumstances may occur to anyone. If a person happens to fall ill and he doesn’t have an advance directive form, arguments may arise amongst his loved ones as they try to make decisions about his health. Such a document should address these three main topics:

  • The person’s end of life wishes
  • Any treatment that’s life-sustaining
  • Life support

Living Will Forms

When to use a living will template?

A living will form will allow you to take control of your medical care in case the need arises. It would contain an outline of the type of medical procedures you agree to with regards to the preservation of your life. It would also contain instructions regarding your end of life care. This document would give you control over what should happen to you in case you’re already unable to make those decisions yourself. You can download this free living will form and use it if:

  • You want to provide instructions regarding what life-prolonging or life-saving measures doctors may perform on you.
  • You want to make an outline of what treatment or medical care doctors would give you at the end of your life.
  • You have a schedule for a surgery or a medical procedure which has a very high risk.
  • You’re suffering from a terminal condition, or you’re entering hospice care.

Advance Directive Forms

Essential elements of a living will

As aforementioned, a living will template allows you to provide your end-of-life medical care and treatment in a written document. There are plenty of examples of a living will online which may help you draft one for your own.

You can also download this template and customize it with your own content. After you die, this document won’t hold any bearings. It will only provide directions to doctors and other medical professionals regarding how they would care for you. Without such a document, it would be very difficult to make decisions regarding your end-of-life wishes. Here are some of the essential elements to include in such a document:

Health Care Directive

The living will document combines the Health Care Directive with a Medical Power of Attorney for when you’re appointing an agent. But if you only plan to make use of the Medical Power of Attorney, then you don’t have to include this part.

Life Support

Often, people would create a living will template to make clear all of their preferences regarding life support. This is important, especially when you would become dependent on life support options to keep on living. In the document, you can choose to withdraw life support if your condition starts to become unsatisfactory with your standards of living such as if you fall into a vegetative state or a chronic coma.

Life-Sustaining Treatment

While you’re on life support, you would need some additional measures to keep you alive. In the document, you may opt to forego some types of life-sustaining treatments and only choose those which you agree to undergo. Keep in mind though, that forgoing some types of life-sustaining treatment may lead to your death.

End-of-Life Wishes

This is the last part of the document. Your end-of-life wishes may include your preferred living arrangements for the final part of your life and even your preferences after you die such as the details of your funeral.

Medical Power of Attorney

Using this element as part of your living will is highly recommended as this would give you a chance to appoint someone to make any decisions related to your health care if you’re unable to do so yourself. Make sure to include all of the relevant information regarding your agent such as his/her full name, complete address, and contact numbers. You may also appoint a successor agent in case the primary agent isn’t able to serve then include all of his details as well.

Witness Acknowledgement

To validate your document, you must ask two people to sign. These people should be non-related to you by adoption, marriage or blood and should be more than 18 years of age. Also, they shouldn’t be beneficiaries of your estate or your will.

Notary Acknowledgement

This is another part of the document which will make it more official. With a notary acknowledgment, your document won’t ever get questioned in case there is any kind of conflict. Check the guidelines of your state because, in some states, this is a requirement.

Free Living Will Forms

Tips for making your living will template

The great thing about a living will template is that you can create it within a day. You don’t have to make it with your attorney nor do you have to file the document with a government office. All you need to do is include all of the elements and instructions in the presence of your witnesses or a notary public. Here are some tips to guide you when creating such a document:

Make a decision regarding your treatment options

Take some time to think about the course of action you would want your loved ones to take in case you encounter medical events such as:

  • Developing a severe case of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • Falling into a coma or a permanent vegetative state
  • Getting permanently incapacitated

You may want the doctors and other medical professionals to do everything in their power to keep you alive. Either that or you would prefer to die peacefully if you’ve reached the point where you cannot function on your own. You may discuss these decisions with your loved ones so that they would also know what to expect in case such situations would arise.

Make a list of your end-of-life decisions

Aside from your treatment options and medical care, you may also want to list down your end-of-life decisions such as having a religious person such as a priest to give you your last rights. You may also want to state your funeral plans so that your family can carry them out your way.

Choose a health care agent

A health care agent is a person who will carry out all the instructions in your living will document. Although this part isn’t a requirement, it can be very helpful to assign a specific person such as a member of your family or one of your closest friends.

Most living wills would indicate the health care agent, especially if the person wants to avoid any arguments or conflicts among his loved ones. Just make sure that the one you choose would outlive you so that he can make the decisions for you. If there are any changes in the information written in your document, make sure to update the content. Your health care agent can also be referred to as your:

  • Surrogate
  • Health care proxy
  • Attorney-in-fact

Sign your document

Finally, after printing out your document, you need to affix your signature in front of you witnesses or a notary public. Then ask them to sign as well. After you complete your document, keep the original document for yourself then send copies to your physician, your health care agent, and anyone else who’s directly involved with the plans of your estate.

Living Will Documents

Do you need to make a living will?

Both a living will document, and a medical power of attorney would serve the same purpose as they would both cater to your medical wishes. Between these two, the living will is the one which specifically deals with any end-of-life situations related to your health care. Conversely, the medical power of attorney would cover a wider range of healthcare decisions and would only start taking effect if you’re already incapacitated.

You may not “need” to make a living will, but it is a very helpful document, especially if you want to have control over your medical treatments. That way, the agent you choose can make the decisions for you based on what you’ve written in the official document.

TemplateLab May 4th, 2019