Living Will

Quick Explanation Of Living Will

What is a living will?  

  • A legal document explaining what your care recipient wants for medical treatment at the end of their life.  

It addresses questions like:  

  • “If your care recipient’s heart stops beating, do they want CPR?”
  • “If your care recipient is unable to eat, do they want to be fed by a tube?” 
Man and woman walking together

When is a living will used?

A living will is used if your care recipient is unable to make or communicate decisions
themselves. For example, if they are unconscious or if they have a condition that makes
them unable to communicate with you.

How can I get help with living will documents?

  • Reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging.
  • Contact an elder law or estate planning attorney. You can also search for resources through the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.
  • Ask your family doctor for help directing you to the right forms.

How much does it cost?

  • There is no cost if you and your care recipient fill out the forms yourself.
  • Hiring a lawyer will include fees. The fees will depend on how detailed you want your planning documents to be.
  • Some states offer free or reduced cost legal clinics for help completing the documents.

What should you do with the signed documents?

  • Share them with your care recipient’s health care power of attorney agent.
  • Give a copy to your care recipient’s primary doctor.
  • Bring a copy with you if going to the hospital.

Expert Story

I worked with a mom and son to complete all of their documents. The son had been helping his mom make decisions for several years, and he knew what her wishes were. However, it was really important to them both to have a living will. The son said that when it came to the end of his mom’s life he would be too upset about the decision to stop any kind of life support, even if it’s what his mom wanted. By having a living will, his mom’s wishes could be followed, and he didn’t have to be the one to make that different decision. – Kim G.

Additional Resources

  • Elderly woman driving

    Care Chat: Dementia & Driving

  • Caregiver assisting senior man out of bed

    Dementia and Skills for Responding to Communication Changes

  • Elderly woman on cell phone

    Frauds & Scams: Online & Phone

  • Writing on paper

    Finances For End Of Life