What is a living will? - A "living will" is more often now called a "healthcare directive."  It is your personal declaration, or expression of your will, regarding your healthcare in the event of your injury or illness which renders you unable to provide meaningful direction to your doctors and other medical professionals.

A healthcare directive explains what level of care you would like to receive if within a reasonable degree of medical certainty there is little if any probability of a client's recovery.  It may direct not using an artificial respirator, withholding of food and water, providing only "comfort care."  Undoubtedly it is a sensitive subject that you may wish to discuss with your doctor as well as your lawyer.

As part of overall planning, a client may wish to also provide a durable power of attorney for healthcare to a trusted individual.  Usually a spouse or child, but potentially a friend or even a professional adviser.  A doctor who is rendering treatment cannot serve as the client's "attorney-in-fact."  (An attorney-in-fact is the technical name for a person who has been assigned a power of attorney.)  Such a power provides for greater flexibility than a living will which is of course a static piece of paper that tried anticipating every contingency but may well prove unsatisfactory under any particular set of circumstances.

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