What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a tool used during estate planning that allows you to ensure that your wishes are met in the event of a life-threatening illness or injury. A living will goes into effect once you are incapacitated, either due to a terminal illness or a serious injury that results in a permanent vegetative state. Living wills outline which, if any, life-prolonging medical treatments you would want in that scenario, and usually require that a doctor certify your condition is terminal.

Because every state has its own requirements, you should work with a living will attorney who is familiar with local regulations to prepare your paperwork. We also recommend appointing someone who will hold power of attorney for your healthcare if you are incapacitated but not terminal.