Advance Directives / Living Wills are specific instructions to selected designees on how you want your health care managed should you become unable to make those decisions yourself. They involve decisions about life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatments such as your preferences for tube feeding, artificial hydration, mechanical ventilation and pain management.
You may also hear this called “a declaration regarding life-prolonging procedures” or simply a “declaration”.
It is important not to confuse a living will with a last will. A last will and testament expresses what you want to happen to your property and minor children if you die. A living will expresses what you want to happen to your person regarding medical treatment while you are still alive.
The Advance Directive forms you need vary by state. Some Advance Directive forms combine your Living Will and your Health Care Power of Attorney. You may want to complete a health care power of attorney form as well, separate from the advance directive form. We provide information on these forms in the Health Care Power of Attorney section.
AARP has Advance Directives forms you can download by state. These forms need to be notarized and witnessed by individuals who will not benefit from your estate in order to become official.