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What is a living will?

A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It is used to communicate your end-of-life preferences to your family, healthcare providers, and medical staff, so that they can act in accordance with your wishes if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

A living will typically includes instructions for medical treatment, such as whether you want to be placed on life support, receive artificial nutrition and hydration, or undergo certain medical procedures. It may also include instructions for pain management and other comfort measures.

For example, if you are in a vegetative state with no chance of recovery, your living will may state that you do not want to be kept alive on life support and that you only want comfort care. Or, if you are terminally ill and suffering from chronic pain, your living will may state that you would like to receive palliative care and pain management, but that you do not want to undergo aggressive medical treatments.

It is important to have a living will because it ensures that your wishes for medical treatment are honored, even if you cannot communicate them. Having a living will can also reduce the stress and emotional burden on your family and loved ones, who will not have to make difficult medical decisions on your behalf without knowing your preferences.

To create a living will, follow these steps:

  1. Decide on the medical treatments or procedures you do or do not want to receive. This will be one of the most important parts of your living will. Be as specific as possible, and include any limitations or conditions that apply to your wishes.
  2. Consult with your doctor. Your doctor can help you understand the options you have and ensure that your living will is reflective of your wishes. They can also help you with any specific language or wording that needs to be included in the document.
  3. Choose a healthcare proxy. This is the person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Make sure to choose someone who is willing and able to make difficult decisions, and who understands your wishes for medical treatment.
  4. Write your living will. You can create a living will in Addio for free or work with one of our estate attorneys to create the document. Make sure to include the medical treatments and procedures you do or do not want to receive, as well as the name of your healthcare proxy.
  5. Sign and date the document. Make sure to sign and date the living will in the presence of two witnesses.
  6. Make copies of the document. It's a good idea to give copies of your living will to your family members, your doctor, and your lawyer, so they will know your wishes if the time comes.
  7. Review and update the document as needed. Your living will should reflect your current wishes, so it's important to review and update it as needed. Addio will help by checking in every year and helping you make the necessary changes.
  8. Share it with your family. Your living will is best supported by family and friends who have a chance to ask questions and better understand your wishes. Share your living will with your family and explain to them why you’ve made certain decisions.

Want to get started? Check out Addio for free today and create your living will.

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Gabe Caldwell
Gabe Caldwell

Gabe Caldwell is an entrepreneur, investor, biohacker and co-founder at Addio. He leads Addio’s partnership efforts and makes sure that families have access to the top experts in Addio’s Expert Network. In his free time, you can find him riding bikes, lifting weights, or playing beach volleyball.

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