When you can’t secure health care decisions for yourself, you are next of kin can move in to make those choices for you.

However, while you are still able to make decisions, you can build a living will to document your health care choices. When your documented wishes clash with what your family needs, your practitioners are assumed to understand the terms of your living will.

Health Care Directives

You can customize your health care directives to suit your circumstances and wishes by building the relevant document. A living will direct your medical care when you become incapacitated and can be as precise as you need to make it.

Your living will is a file of guidance for your practitioners; it typically does not give any decision-making authority to your family. While a living will direct your practitioners not to revive you under specific circumstances, a living will itself is not fundamentally a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.

If you want a family member to make your medical decisions for you when you are helpless to do so, you can build a health care power of attorney to grant someone that decision-making power.

Unlike a living will, a health care power of attorney gives several distinct directions; rather, it merely gives decision-making power to someone else.


When it becomes time to make choices about your medical care, your practitioners need approval before they can manage you. While you are intellectually capable of executing your own decisions, you give the necessary consent, but doctors must look to other roots when you are incapacitated.

If your living guides the situation at hand, your practitioners must look to that document since it serves as consent given in advance.

If your medical condition befalls outside the range of your living will, your experts may look to the agent you mentioned in your health care power of attorney or, if you did not designate an agent, to your next of kin to give permission on your part.

For example, your living will not discuss a situation where you are in a stupor and need lifesaving surgery. Thus, your experts must get consent from somewhere else.


Though your caregivers are assumed to honor living wills, they may decide not to if your family objects vigorously enough.

Realistically talking, your doctors may not want to stop your life-sustaining problem, like synthetic breath or nutrition, if they are concerned that your family might attempt a trial or other court action.

Since the decision to take away your life maintenance becomes immutable once you pass away, your doctors will likely take measures to assure they are doing the best choices likely before switching support.

However, depending on the conditions, if your doctor leaves to follow your living will, he may face claims from you or your family and moral objections. Depending on your state’s laws, he may even face illegal sentences.

Cancellation and Amendment

Your living will is not reliable as you can edit it at any time as long as you have the mental ability to do so.

For example, if you built a living will that states you want specific methods, but you later choose, while you are qualified, that you do not wish to those treatments, you can improve your living will and provide copies to your physicians.

Alternatively, you can build a new living will, and the original report automatically replaces the old one. You may also need to give copies to your family, so they have an opinion about your wishes. You can also cancel your living will by killing it or engaging a revocation document.

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