A Living Will tells your doctor which treatments you do (or do not) want if you're incapacitated.

If you were to become terminally ill or unconscious, you might be helpless to indicate to our loved ones and healthcare providers just what type of medical treatment you would want to undergo. However, a Living Will is one way to indicate your wishes before you become seriously ill.

An accident or serious illness can happen suddenly, so even if you are in good health, you might want to consider writing a Living Will.

A Living Will is one of three "advance directives" regarding your medical decision-making (the others are a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Do Not Resuscitate order). A Living Will indicates your desires regarding medical treatments or life-sustaining treatments in case of serious or terminal illness.  Through a Living Will, you can indicate exactly what kind of medical treatment you do (or do not) want. 

Keep in mind that a Living Will is not the same as a Living Trust. A Living Trust involves the designation of a trustee and beneficiaries, while you are still alive, in relation to the disposition of your estate. A Living Will is also different from a Last Will and Testament, which is another document concerned with disposition of your estate after you die.

In addition, a Living Will does not designate a person of your choosing to make medical decisions for you (only a Healthcare Power of Attorney can do that). Many people have both a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Living Will. One advance directive designates the person to make healthcare choices for you, while the second specifies what those choices are.

Under some states' laws (including my home state of Michigan), a Living Will is not legally binding and thus may be contested. This makes having both a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney a good idea. But if you have both documents, make sure your wishes expressed in the documents are consistent.

A Living Will takes effect only after your healthcare provider diagnoses you as seriously or terminally ill and determines you are no longer able to make an informed decision about your medical care.

Like other advance directives, a living will must be created in writing. Your Living Will should be witnessed by two adults, at least one of which should not be any of the following:

  • the agent
  • a relative by blood or marriage
  • your healthcare provider
  • an employee or your healthcare provider
  • a beneficiary of your estate

    It is not necessary to get the Living Will notarized.

It is entirely up to you how specific (or general) you want to make the directions in your Living Will. You may choose broad directions regarding your medical care, such as "I authorize you to take only the necessary steps to make me comfortable" or "Do whatever is necessary to prolong my life." 

On the other hand, you may choose to give very detailed instructions. You may authorize (or decline) blood transfusions, respirators, antibiotics, different kinds of surgery, etc. You should also indicate your wishes regarding water and food administered through tubes. Again, the Living Will can include whatever treatments you want to express a desire to undergo (or avoid).

If you live in Michigan and need experienced estate planning help, contact Michael Einheuser for a free consultation. Michael helps families in Bingham FarmsTroyFarmington HillsRochester HillsSouthfieldWest Bloomfield TownshipBloomfield Township, and the surrounding Michigan areas.

Schedule your Free Consultation today: (248) 398-4665.

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