Make a Free Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document that provides guidance on what a person wants for their end-of-life care and medical treatment. It is also known as an Advance Directive. The living will is only valid until death, and helps doctors provide care based on what is stated in the document. This is especially important around situations such as Do Not resuscitate (DNR). Create this document to help your family and doctors carry out your end of life plans. This document should be used in conjunction with a Medical Power of Attorney, which appoints an agent to make critical health care decisions on a patient's behalf.

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What is a Living Will? 

A living will is a legal document that specifies a person's wishes regarding medical treatment; specifically treatments that will prolong life. This form is prepared before it is actually needed and is used if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself due to severe injury or a medical condition. It will typically detail any Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. It may also be used for people who wish to refuse certain types of medical treatment for personal or religious reasons, such as blood transfusions or life support should they fall into a coma.

Only someone who is 18 years or older and of sound mind can create a living will. Creating a living will means you need to choose a party you trust to carry out medical wishes on your behalf. This could be a family member, trusted friend, or an attorney. However, many states have specific laws in who can act on your behalf with a living will. You may also need two witnesses and to have all signatures witnessed by a notary public. Your state law will also explain who can act as a witness.

Other Names For a Living Will

Living wills have several other names. Some of which include:

  • Declaration
  • Advance healthcare directive
  • Advance directive
  • Directive to physicians and family or surrogates
  • Instructional directive

The Essential Guide to Living Wills

By FormSwift Editorial Team
May 16, 2018

Every person who is a legal adult needs a living will. This guide walks you through the process of creating one. We cover what to include, the differences between a living will and similar documents, how to bring up the subject of living wills with your loved ones, and much more. Just remember that many laws that cover living wills are state specific. Make sure that you know and adhere to your state law so that your living will document is legally enforceable. We hope this guide helps you navigate the perhaps uncomfortable process of creating a living will.

Living Will vs Other Healthcare Documents

There are other healthcare documents similar to a living will, including a durable power of attorney for healthcare and an advance directive. However, there are important distinctions between these documents.

Here’s a breakdown of those differences:

Your state law may advise you on which form you should use.

When and Why do You Need a Living Will? 

Do You Need a Living Will?

Yes, everyone who is a legal adult should have a living will. Having this document means that medical professionals will treat you exactly as you wish if you can no longer make your own medical decisions. This takes the stress off of your family, too.

Living wills are just as important for younger adults as they are for older ones. No one anticipates becoming unable to make their own decisions. Living wills are essential for determining whether you want your organs donated to save lives. Without one, no one, not even your spouse or parents, can make legal, financial, or healthcare decisions on your behalf without a first obtaining a court order.

Talking to Parents about End of Life Documents

It’s important to talk with your parents, spouse, and other people to whom you are close to about having their own living will. Doing so will ensure that, in the event of a tragedy, a procedure and understanding will already be in place as long as the document was properly executed and given to the proper people.

These conversations can be difficult. Here are a few quick ways to sensitively raise the issue of living wills.

  • “If something happens to you, I want to make sure I honor your wishes. Do you have a living will?” If they say that they do not have a living will, ask if they’ve considered creating one. Be prepared to explain the importance of the document.
  • “If you’re ever on life support, I’m not sure I would be in the right frame of mind to make medical decisions on your behalf that would honor your wishes. I think it would give us both some relief if you documented your preferences in a living will.”

In Conclusion

Living wills can be a difficult document to write from an emotional standpoint. They force you to confront a possibility none of us want to happen. However, it is vital for you and your loved ones that you establish a living will. Should something tragic happen to you, your loved ones will already have enough to deal with. A living will ensures they won’t also have to figure out what medical care you would or would not want.

More resources

Study ranking of the most and expensive states to die in in the US, separated by dying at home, in a hospital and in a nursing facility.


Our team at FormSwift created a ranking of the most expensive states to die in, in the United States. We separated these costs into three scenarios - dying at home, dying in a hospital, and dying in a nursing facility. We created our ranking by evenly weighting the following costs associated with dying: average living wage for one adult, average funeral cost, average medical costs, and average final year costs associated with dying at home, in a hospital, and in a nursing facility.

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Living Will

A Living Will establishes your wishes in relation to medical treatments in the event of your being unable to express your preferences for treatments, or withdrawal thereof. It establishes in advance your best interests and opinions in relation to quality of life, thus minimising differences of opinion amongst loved ones to whom the decisions would otherwise fall.

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A power of attorney is used to name another person to take care of your personal or business affairs. These documents can be temporary, such as when a member of the military is deployed overseas, or they can be permanent.

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