Living Wills and Advance Directives: 101


A Living Will.

A living will is a set of written instructions that a person gives to specify what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions because of illness or incapacity.

Advance Directives

A living will is one form of advance directive. Another form is a health care proxy, which allows you to appoint a person you trust as your healthcare agent (or surrogate decision maker), who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf.

People are encouraged to complete both living will and advance directive documents to provide comprehensive guidance regarding their care. In the United States, we even have combination documents that you can build online to make it a bit easier, like Five Wishes and MyDirectives.

Important Fact of Note:

While you don’t need a lawyer to fill out the forms, your advance directives only becomes legally valid once you’ve signed them in front of the required witnesses. Every state is different. It’s important to complete and sign advance directives in compliance with state law.

In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day (April 16), please take 10-15 minutes to fill out your advance directives and living will at Five Wishes or MyDirectives.

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