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5 Tips for Creating a Living Will Form


Tip #1: Understand what options are available

A living will form tells your doctor and family your requests for medical care if you are unable to communicate them yourself. Specifically, it will determine the degree to which doctors will go to keep you alive in the event you become incapacitated. Usually, experts advise people over the age of 18 years to have their own living will. The number of people choosing to create one is constantly increasing for practical and ethical reasons. You actually are not forced to write one, but you should explore your options.

Tip # 2: Pick an advocate or an executioner 

The details of your living will form can be fully decided by you. You could also designate a person to make the significant decisions in case events are not covered by your own provisions. Pick someone you can rely on to faithfully advocate your wishes and the execution of your living will. You may want to choose a back up proxy or health care agent in case something happens to your first choice.

living will

Tip # 3: Secure your choices

Have your family’s consent or the advice of your religious adviser when deciding which medical procedures to allow or prohibit. Be as clear as possible about what you expect; choices include a do-not-resuscitate order, which means that you would order a doctor not to start emergency procedures to help you to breathe or restart your heart, or decisions regarding the type of life-support care you'll be willing to accept, i.e. dialysis, feeding tubes.

Tip # 4: Write your own living will

You can contact an attorney to write a living will or you can put one together yourself with relatively little cost. Download a free copy of a living will at  However, it would not be valid, legal, and effective unless notified by a certified lawyer.

Tip # 5: Revise your living will regularly

It is important to always update your living will. There might be additional provisions and terms you want to include in it. Review the will once a year and update or make the changes necessary. Do not forget to make a number of copies. Distribute one each to your doctor, family members, agents, and of course keep a copy for yourself.


This is a complex subject that you'll want to take your time to understand. Based on what medical conditions you have, you'll have very different choices about how you would want to treated at the end of life. A person with terminal lung cancer will have to make different decisions than a person with kidney failure or someone with heart disease. 
You want to be clear about the possibilities because there is a lot of confusion. A living will talks about procedures at the end of life. A Do-Not-Resuscitate order is a medical order written by a doctor that will ONLY be done if you already have a certified terminal illness. You might talk about the possibility of a DNR for a future condition, but a "healthy" person cannot have a DNR in effect.  
The exact implementation of living wills varies from state to state. In some states you have to have them notarized, in some states you do not. All require witnessing by someone of legal age. None require that a lawyer complete the forms.  
The most important part is to TALK to your family, your doctors, your health care power of attorney (this is not a lawyer... even though it uses the word "attorney") or health proxy so they understand your values and beliefs. 
There are some great resources online that can help you sort this all out. To find more information and links to additional resources go to <a> 
Posted @ Tuesday, December 28, 2010 3:58 PM by Rev. Dale Susan Edmonds
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