What Is A Living Will?

What Is A Living Will?

by Jan 15, 2020Family Law

While most people are familiar with a standard will–the legal document that specifies your final wishes and describes how you want your property and possessions to be distributed after you pass away–many people aren’t familiar with a living will. A living will is an entirely separate legal document and takes effect under certain situations while you’re still alive.

A living will outlines what you want to happen if you:

  • Contract a terminal illness
  • Suffer a major injury
  • Permanently lose consciousness

Basically, if you become disabled for any reason and are unable to make medical decisions for yourself due to your injury, illness, or unconsciousness, your living will tell doctors and family members how to proceed.

Why Is A Living Will Necessary?

Many people have strong opinions about what they would want to happen to them if, for example, they were on life support and in a coma with little chance of ever waking up. Some people would want to be kept alive as long as possible in the hope of getting lucky, while others would prefer to be taken off life support and left to die naturally.

If something like this should happen to you and you don’t have a living will, your family or your doctor will be in charge of making that decision.

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What Should Be Included In A Living Will?

Creating a living will is often just as difficult and uncomfortable as creating a last will and testament. While it may be hard to think about, certain questions need to be answered, such as:

  • What would you want to happen if you can no longer breathe on your own?
  • If you can no longer feed yourself, how do you feel about feeding tubes?
  • What types of pain management drugs or procedures would you be comfortable with?
  • Do you want a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) or DNI (Do Not Intubate)?
  • How do you feel about donating your body or organs after your death?

There’s no need to rush through these questions. Take your time and carefully think about each situation. Also, keep in mind that if you change your mind about certain conditions down the road, you can change your living will.

How To Create A Living Will

In most cases, the best way to create a living will is to work with a reputable attorney who can assist you through the process.

Working with an attorney ensures that there will be no confusion or uncertainty at a critical time when you are unable to provide input and make decisions.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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