We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Make a Living will?

By M. Lupica
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A living will — also referred to as an advance directive, health care directive, or physician’s directive — is a document that states a person’s wishes regarding medical care should he or she ever fall into an incapacitated state. Typically, someone will make a living will stating general considerations, then gives specific directives in the case of more particular circumstances such as pregnancy and new medical developments. Generally, a living will may be executed as long as there are two witnesses and the person to whom it pertains, called the “declarant,” is of sound mind at the time of execution.

A declarant should make a living will with the purpose of articulating his or her wishes to those giving medical care in a situation of incapacitation. Generally a living will only applies in situations where the declarant is facing a likelihood of death or an inability to fully recover to the point where there will be a reasonable quality of life. For instance, if someone is in a situation where he or she can be revived, but will likely live the rest of his or her life in a vegetative state or otherwise have extreme mental deterioration due to the injury, then a living will would apply.

In order to make a living will, the declarant usually starts with a declaration that the document represents his or her intent in the event that communication of his or her own wishes with regard to life sustaining medical procedures is impossible. Next is usually a general statement as to the situations in which the document will control. This generally involves an description of circumstances in which the declarant is incapacitated, faces a terminal illness, and faces a serious risk of a diminished quality of life in the best case scenario. Often, laws require that two or more doctors have examined the declarant and agree on the diagnosis prior to fulfilling his or her wishes according to the document.

In order to make a living will complete, the declarant should go into more specific scenarios to guide the medical care providers. For instance, the document may state any desired changes in treatment if the declarant is pregnant. Further, it may also refer to specific treatments and explain when they should be cut off, such as intravenous feeding or breathing tubes. The living will may also account for any new medical developments that come to light between its execution and the injury.

The process to make a living will valid varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the general requirements are similar to executing a standard will. The declarant must be of sound mind and there must be two witnesses attesting to that fact. Generally, if the living will was valid in the jurisdiction in which it was executed, other jurisdictions will recognize its validity even if the procedures taken would not amount to a valid execution in that location.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.