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Home » Estate Planning » What should you address in your living will?

A living will is a legal document that specifies the types of medical treatments you would like to undergo if you find yourself in a position where you cannot make decisions. This document also details your preferences regarding end-of-life and life-prolonging procedures, pain management, and organ donation.

Because of the implications a living will has on your future, it is imperative that you take painstaking care when devising it. In addition to considering all possible circumstances, your personal values, and your loved ones’ emotional and financial well-being, Mayo Clinic encourages you to use your will to address particular possible end-of-life care decisions.

Mechanical ventilation

Mechanical ventilation is a machine that breathes for you should you become unable to breathe on your own. When devising your living will, consider whether you want breathing assistance and, if so, for how long.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

CPR helps restart the heart when it stops beating. When addressing this issue, consider whether you want traditional CPR or the type that shocks your heart into restarting.

Tube feeding

If you can no longer eat, your healthcare team may attempt to supply the body with fluids and nutrients via a tube or IV. When writing your living will, decide whether you want your medical team to tube feed you and, if so, for how long.

Palliative care

Otherwise referred to as comfort care, palliative care simply refers to interventions your medical team takes to keep you comfortable as you die. These may include but are not limited to pain management, dying at home, and avoidance of invasive treatments or tests.

These are just a few end-of-life care decisions you should consider. Ideally, you will consult with a professional to devise a comprehensive living will.