A Living Will is an entirely different legal document than a Last Will and Testament or a Living Trust.
A Last Will and Testament is a document in which you state your instructions about what is to be done with your property after you die. (See Wills 101: The 5 “W”s - Who, What, Where When, and Why). A Living Trust is intended to secure assets, and control property (See Trust 101: The 5 “W”s - Who, What, Where When, and Why). A Living Will, is a completely separate legal instrument that states what you want while you are still alive. A Living Will is a document containing your preferences such as if you want life supporting medical treatment in the event that you become severely disabled or are placed on life support.
A Living Will tells your health care professional whether you want death-delaying procedures used if you have a terminal condition and are unable to state your wishes. A Living Will, unlike a health care power of attorney, only applies if you have a terminal condition. A terminal condition means an incurable and irreversible condition such that death is imminent and the application of any death delaying procedures serves only to prolong the dying process.
Even if you sign a Living Will, food and water cannot be withdrawn if it would be the only cause of death. Also, if you are pregnant and your health care professional thinks you could have a live birth, your Living Will cannot go into effect.
You can use a standard Living Will form or write your own. You may write specific directions about the death-delaying procedures you do or do not want. Two people must witness your signing of the Living Will. Your health care professional cannot be a witness. It is your responsibility to tell your health care professional if you have a Living Will, if you are able to do so. You can cancel your Living Will at any time, either by telling someone or by canceling it in writing.
If you have both a health care power of attorney and a Living Will, the agent you name in your power of attorney will make your health care decisions unless he or she is unavailable.
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