A living will (also known as an advance medical directive) is a statement of your wishes for the kind of life-sustaining medical intervention you want, or don’t want, in the event that you become terminally ill and unable to communicate. Most states have living will statutes that define when a living will goes into effect (for example, when a person has less than six months to live).
Your condition and the terms of your directive also will be subject to interpretation. Different institutions and doctors may come to different conclusions. As a result, in some instances a living will may not be followed. Nevertheless, a patient’s wishes are taken very seriously, and an advance medical directive is one of the best ways to have a say in your medical care when you can’t express yourself otherwise. You increase your chances of enforcing your directive when you have a health-care agent advocating on your behalf.