Living Will Form

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Updated Feb 9, 2024
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A living will embodies one's healthcare preferences in scenarios when they are unable to express them themselves. It symbolizes an individual's autonomy and serves to preserve their right to make critical healthcare decisions. Create your living will online and get a legally binding document to your device in minutes.
Paper titled "Living Will", woman and man shaking hands by the desk

A living will holds substantial importance for individuals. This legal document signifies forethought and preparation — it embodies one's healthcare preferences in scenarios when they are unable to express them themselves. It symbolizes an individual's autonomy and serves to preserve their right to make critical healthcare decisions.

When to Use a Living Will

You'll need a living will form in instances when you may not be able to make or communicate your healthcare decisions. This can happen unexpectedly due to an accident or can arise from a chronic or terminal illness that might impair your cognitive abilities. Age-related deterioration might also demand the need for a living will.

The essence of living will forms is ensuring that your medical treatment preferences are followed during critical times when you are incapable of expressing them yourself. Also, online living will act as a legally binding document that instructs the medical team and your appointed representative (if any) on what your specific wishes are regarding life-sustaining treatments or end-of-life care. 


  • Declarant — This is the individual who creates the living will. It's the declarant's responsibility to clearly outline their wishes for medical treatment in situations where they might not be capable of communicating or making decisions. The declarant is required to sign the blank living will form in the presence of witnesses, clearly stating their desires about future healthcare and end-of-life decisions.

  • Healthcare provider — This generally refers to the doctors, hospitals, or healthcare institutions tasked with providing care for the declarant. In the context of a living will, the healthcare provider must uphold and implement the instructions documented in the living will. They need to respect the pre-emptively made choices, ranging from life-support decisions to pain management.

  • Healthcare proxy — This is a trustworthy individual, chosen by the declarant, who ensures that the health care preferences mentioned in the living will are enforced when the declarant is unable to communicate. The healthcare proxy takes the reins when crucial decisions need to be made, providing a voice for the declarant's preferences. They uphold the declarant's choice and advocate for their healthcare preferences outlined in the living will.

Key Terms

  • Life-sustaining treatment: Medical procedures or interventions that extend the patient's life despite not curing or reversing the underlying ailment.
  • Terminal condition: An incurable and irreversible condition that an informed physician believes will result in death within a short period.
  • Permanent unconsciousness: A medical condition wherein consciousness is not expected to return.

How to Write a Living Will

Drafting the living will documents demands deliberation and legal expertise due to the intricate nature of its terms and conditions. A living will template can be immensely helpful in this process as it provides a structured format for laying out your preferences. This involves firmly stating your course of treatment, designating a healthcare proxy, addressing potential dilemmas, and defining end-of-life decisions.

Here's a step-by-step guide for creating a living will:

  1. Understand what living wills can cover:
    Before you start, familiarize yourself with what medical conditions and treatments a living will address. The living will samples found online can provide some insight into this. This often includes instructions about life-support measures, pain management, resuscitation, and other end-of-life care.

  2. Seek legal counsel:
    Laws around living wills can vary by location, so it's advisable to consult with a legal professional. They can provide guidance on local regulations and help ensure your directives will be legally enforceable.

  3. Outline your preferences clearly:
    When drafting your living will, use clear and concise language. Specify your desires regarding prolonging life if you face a terminal condition or permanent unconsciousness. Utilizing a living will PDF can provide guidance on how to cover various scenarios and articulate instructions.

  4. Identify a healthcare proxy:
    Appointing a healthcare proxy or agent is a crucial part of your living will. This individual will ensure your treatment preferences are adhered to when you're unable to communicate your wishes. Some living will examples include clauses dedicated to the powers and responsibilities of a proxy.

  5. Sign and witness the document:
    Once you've outlined your wishes, you need to sign the living will in the presence of two witnesses (requirements may vary by location). It may be necessary to get the document notarized, depending on your jurisdiction.

  6. Share your living will:
    After these steps, ensure copies are given to your healthcare agent, doctors, and family members.

Having a living will is as crucial as any other estate planning document. It ensures your medical preferences are honored, imparting you control even in incapacitating circumstances. By exploring free living will templates, you can gain a better understanding and decide which aspects are necessary for your personal directive.

Remember, there is a multitude of printable living will forms available to help streamline the drafting process. Using well-designed templates can provide a solid platform for defending and safeguarding your assets and wishes. With the proper guidance and resources, you can secure your future and take control of your well-being in any situation.