Living wills notifies others about the medical treatment you wish to receive or refuse if you become terminally ill or permanently comatose and incapable of communicating your decisions. Duly ratified state laws regulate all living wills in the United States – except New York, Michigan and Massachusetts living wills.
These statutes aim to safeguard a person's right to say no to medical interventions. In most states, these documents are legally binding and can assure that an attending physician who implements patient's wishes will be free from any liability.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a written document that is legally binding and would take effect only when the creator becomes incapacitated to make autonomous and informed decisions about his or her medical care. If you decide to make one, you can specifically express your wishes with regard to what types of treatment you want to receive or decline.
A lot of people prefer to steer clear of life-sustaining interventions that only function in prolonging life without improving its quality. They can definitely make their objections clear by writing a living will. On the other hand, individuals who want to express their preference to receive all types of medical treatment – to sustain life and consequently delay death – may do so through this legal document.
The instructions – or advanced directives – contained in a living will are typically designed to take effect if you fall into any of the following circumstances:
1) terminal illness
2) persistent vegetative state (PVS) or permanent coma
3) conscious yet with permanent brain damage and will in no way recover the capacity to make autonomous decisions and/or convey your wishes