A will to live, formally called a living will form, is a type of advance directive. These legal forms are usually required to be notarized or signed and dated by witnesses.
A living will form usually covers specific directions as to what kind of medical treatment your caregivers will give you or are not allowed to give you. Some people go as far as to refuse food and water if they become incapacitated. A will to live is just that though, it is intended to force caregivers to give you the kind of medical treatment you want if you can't communicate those directives yourself. You are considered unable to communicate when you become incapacitated or brain damaged.
Another form similar to a living will form is a power of attorney for health care form. A power of attorney for health care form appoints some one you trust of your choosing to direct your health care decisions.
End-of-life health care decisions can be very difficult and emotional on your family; 1/3rd of Americans have had to make end-of-life health care decisions for their family. A living will form will keep your family members from making these critical, emotional, and frightening decisions.
You are also entitled to fill out a do not resuscitate order if you so choose to do so, this order will not allow your caregivers to put you on life support. Often times depending on the hospital and jurisdiction they will withhold do not resuscitate orders until their confirmed or simply not even recognize their legal power. Most hospitals will not perform intubations or resuscitation only when faced with these orders but they will treat infections, pump food and fluids directly into your blood stream, use pain management, and adequate comfort care are often times continued.
These types of forms are valid as soon as they are notarized or witnessed, copies should be given to your doctor, family, and any one else you feel may need a copy.
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