A Living Will is also known as an Advanced Directive for Natural Death.  This allows a person to make decisions now about end-of-life treatment.  If a doctor determines that a patient is on their death bed, in a permanent coma, or a permanent vegetative state, they may recommend to the family to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging measures.  Having to make that ultimate decision to pull the plug can be painful for a child, spouse, or loved one.  Many people decide that if they were ever in that position, they would want those life-prolonging measures taken away and they don’t want to leave that decision on the shoulders of their family.  A Living Will lets a person take that decision away from the family and tell the doctors what to do.

When deciding whether to utilize a Living Will, the first thing to consider is that the chances of it coming into play are very slim, so don’t fret too much.  It only handles three situations: being on your death bed, in a permanent coma, or in a permanent vegetative state.  The legal language used to describe these three situations is more cumbersome, but again, it is unlikely that any of those situations will happen.  That said, it’s a fairly simple document that could prevent your family from being forced to make that decision if the situation did arise.

This is different from a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate).  A DNR is a medical decision that is primarily used for a patient who is in the hospital or receiving hospice care at home and knows that they will pass relatively soon.  The DNR tells medical professionals not to take action to revive a person whose heart has stopped beating.  DNRs are only used in limited circumstances and should be made in consultation with a primary doctor.