A living will, or advanced medical care directive, is a legal document that specifies what you want done for your health care, should you ever be incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. It answers questions like whether you want your family to exhaust all medical means to keep you alive, or have some limit – drawn by your personal beliefs or your religion – that you wouldn’t want them to exceed.
DIY free living will online
Unlike many legal documents, a living will is something you can create online for free in the United States. As long as you follow your state’s instructions for having it witnessed and/or notarized, it should be upheld. Remember, notaries must witness signatures, so don’t sign it before taking it to a notary.
There are several good reasons to have a document like this:
- It takes the burden of these difficult decisions off your loved ones, who may be too emotional to make these choices at the time. Without knowing what your wishes are, your loved ones could even end up in court trying to hammer out what’s best for you. That just makes a painful situation more painful, and more difficult to heal from.
- It informs your doctor and loved ones of your preferences, ensuring that your health care is handled in the way you prefer.
- Should you end up in the care of an unfamiliar doctor or hospital, their job is to keep you alive no matter what. A living will eases this legal burden, allowing them to comply with your wishes without fear of being sued by loved ones who feel differently.
A number of online providers offer living will forms and documents for you to fill out, so you can create your own legally binding living will without paying an attorney’s fees.
- Do Your Own Will has a Word document for each US state. Most of them are nearly identical, because most states use the same language. A few states have their own specific forms, so their language varies. Just download the Word file, and you can either print it and fill in the blanks by hand or you can type in the answers. It covers all sorts of questions ranging from your choices on pain relief medication to organ donation.
- Do Your Proxy is an online fillable form that allows you to generate a living will for the state of New York online for free. While it is designed to work for New York, it will actually work in all the states that don’t have their own specific forms. Fill out whatever you need and follow the instructions regarding witnesses and notarization.
- If those are more complex than you’re looking for, LawInfo.com has a fillable form that generates a simple living will directing your family and doctor to avoid various methods of prolonging your life. Read it to make sure you agree with each section of it. If it suits you, have it witnessed by two people and notarized.
This paper is not going to magically appear in your hospital room the moment you need it. You need to take certain steps to make sure people know you have a living will, and how to get hold of it.
- As unpleasant as it may be, it’s good to inform your loved ones of this document and your preferences before the time comes for it to be invoked. Unless they know your feelings, they could be hit with an additional shock at a time that’s already traumatic for them. Even if they disagree with your preferences, knowing the decision is out of their hands may bring them a degree of comfort.
- Talk to your doctor, too. And if you feel you can’t talk to your loved ones (say, if they believe so strongly in keeping you alive no matter what that you think they’ll feel hurt by your decision), it’s especially important to let your doctor know what you want. Doctors can also inform loved ones when the time comes, thus playing the “bad guy” for you – they’re trained at giving bad news, after all.
- Since it’s possible none of these people will be available at the time (say, if you’re traveling in a foreign country and have a car accident, but no one’s expecting to hear from you for a few more days anyway), you may want to carry a card in your wallet instructing your doctors to contact someone in case of emergency. A relative or close friend would be the best choice for this. Make sure this person knows about your living will and has a copy of it, so he or she can inform your doctors of your wishes.