Life can be unexpected at times. Although everything may seem in place and secure, there are unfortunately instances that can severely and negatively impact a person’s life, such as a tragic accident or sudden illness. In situations such as these, people may still want to have their wishes fulfilled even though they may not directly be able to communicate them at the time. One way to help ensure this happens is through a document known as a living will.

At its core, a living will is a declaration of the types of life-prolonging medical procedures he or she permits or does not permit in the event they are unable to actively make that type of decision. This type of will allows a person to make these decisions at a time they are full able. In the event of an accident or illness, the living will acts as the voice of the person in question. A third person, as named by the will, can also speak for the wishes of the person in question.

If a physician caring for the person in question does not agree to fulfill the wishes of the will, he or she must transfer the patient to a physician who will do so. As long as the wishes of the will are within acceptable medical standards for the given situation, laws do not permit criminal action against physicians who follow them. Laws also do not permit legal action against physicians who choose not to follow the will either, making the clarity of the language of utmost importance in such documents.

Creating a living will is a personal choice and depends on several elements in one’s life. Depending on the situation, it can be comforting to know that one’s wishes will be fulfilled to their fullest possible even if that person is unable to speak for themselves.

Luis E. Barreto