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Living Will – The Pros & Cons You Need to Know

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Medical situations happen unexpectedly, and unfortunately, many of us could face a medical emergency someday. However, in some medical emergencies, patients cannot declare to their loved ones or doctors what treatments they want or who they would like to speak on their behalf in this situation, etc. In this article, we’re going to discuss what a living will is, the pros and cons, and more. 

What is a Living Will?

A living will is a written document or an advanced directive that specifies what type of medical treatment you would want if you cannot communicate. Completing this document is the best way to plan because sudden emergencies may arise anytime for anyone. However, living wills are even more critical for people who have a severe illness.

What is a living will?

How To Create a Living Will

Just saying that you don’t want extraordinary measures taken if you become hurt, disabled or any other injury isn’t all; you have to create a living will. Here are a few guidelines on making your living will, but first, you will need to be 18 years or older, be of sound mind, and have two witnesses and a notary public. 

Step 1 – Get to know your state’s requirements because there are no federal laws that govern living wills.

Step 2 –  Begin the document by using the phrase “Being of sound legal mind” and “Acting under no coercion.” By using this phrase, you’re attesting to your sanity as of the date that you sign the document. 

Step 3 – outline under which circumstances or conditions you want your living will follow, like a terminal illness, brain damage, or paralysis.

Step 4 – Instruct as to any or all treatments you wish to refuse. These could be feeding tubes, CPR, a respirator, or dialysis. 

Step 5 – State whether you would like maximum pain mediations. 

Step 6 – Go to a notary public, you and your two witnesses. They will attest that everything is in order when the document is signed and dated. In some states, your spouses, relatives, doctor, and heirs can’t be witnesses, so verify if they can be before you go. 

Step 7 – Hand a copy of your living will to your loved ones so your wishes will be acknowledged if an emergency occurs. You can also give copies to your doctors and store one in a safe place for yourself.

Step 8 – You can consider appointing a health care proxy. They’re just basically individuals who have the right to approve your wishes if you can’t. You can get health proxy forms online or at your local hospital. 

Pros and Cons of Living Wills

There can be various advantages and disadvantages to living wills. Let’s take a look at a few of those. 


  • They can save the individual’s family from dealing with financial burdens.
  • Living wills can save your life. For example, if a patient is allergic to medication and advises that the doctors shouldn’t administer it, the doctor could avoid giving them that treatment to save them. 
  • A living will provides your family or doctors with the necessary information when you just can’t. 
  • If you have a living will and may feel the need to update it or change it before you become ill, you can do so.


  • When a living will is completed and signed, the doctors always have the final say, despite if family members try to make any changes.
  • Once the doctors certify that the individual’s reason for signing the living will are met, there is no time limit. 
  • By signing your living will, you will be deciding today on the treatment you will get twenty or thirty years down the line. 
  • If you want your family involved in the process, don’t sign a living will. When the person has that incurable disease with no chance of recovering, there is no turning back, regardless of what family members say. 

Pros and Cons of a Living Will

Do I Need One or Not?

The living will have been around for a long time, and it has its advantages and disadvantages, but what’s important is that the decision is solely on you. For example, suppose you’re suffering from an incurable illness or in a vegetative state, and you would like to have artificial nutrition or hydration. In that case, the decision all leads back to you.

Having a living will also makes it easy to have a conversation with the people close to you. For example, if you think you’re not likely to recover in a meaningful way, the living will simply outlines what is to be done or not done on your behalf. However, by not having that conversation, family members would have to glean from past discussions about what you would want or not. For example, she said she didn’t want to live that way, or another time she told me to keep her alive. 

Who Should Have One?

As mentioned earlier, completing a living will is what you can call a safe way to plan. Since a living will is a type of advanced directive and emergencies can arise at any point in life for anyone, it is suggested that everyone should complete a living will. Still, they are of greater importance for someone with a severe illness.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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