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A living will, also called a treatment directive, is a type of
advance directive that documents personal wishes about end-of-life medical
treatment in case decision-making or communication abilities are lost. A living
will specifies the conditions under which certain kinds of treatment or
life-support measures would or would not be wanted.
A living will can be changed or revoked at any time and will not
take effect until a person is no longer able to make or communicate decisions.
Copies of living wills should be given to and discussed with a person's health
professional and family members.
Although living wills can be written without the help of an
attorney, legal advice may be useful. This is especially true for people who
live in states where living wills are not recognized or the laws governing them
are unclear. Many hospitals and nursing homes provide living will forms that
comply with state-specific requirements.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Shelly R. Garone, MD, FACP - Palliative Medicine
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