topic | life planning - medical directives
Step 2: express wishes for life support (i.e. living will)
The second directive expresses a person's wishes for life support treatments when unable to communicate (e.g. coma, 'vegetative state'). In many states this is called a Living Will. In other states, such as Michigan which does not recognize a separate "Living Will" document, this directive should be incorporated as part of a Patient Advocate Designation in Step 1. The person's wishes for life support treatment can specify whether or not to provide:
- Cardiopulmonary treatments
- Artificial respiration
- Artificial means of feeding and hydration
- Hospice treatment
- Bedside clergy
- Organ donation
- Artificial life support (length of time)
- An autopsy (unless required by law)
A Living Will, or its equivalent, is for medical purposes only and is not the same as a Will.
The legal documents used to express a person's wishes for life support in case of incapacitation are state specific. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website provides samples for each state:
Seek the advice of an estate attorney to complete and activate the state specific Medical Directives.
The completed document should be securely stored and copies distributed to others, such as the executor. An estate attorney can provide guidance.
(if this Step is complete)
Return to Step 1