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When is the Right Time for an Advanced Healthcare Directive or Living Will?

The best time to create an advanced healthcare directive or living will is when you are healthy and the issues contained in these documents are not critical. Undertaking this work when it is not immediately necessary provides you with the emotional and spiritual space to consider each question carefully and thoughtfully, and to effectively communicate your wishes and desires to your loved ones.

What Does an Advanced Healthcare Directive and Living Will Do?

An elderly gentleman signing papers in front of a legal counsel

Advanced healthcare directives and living wills accomplish two main goals: 

The first goal is to identify an authorized representative to make decisions on your behalf, based on your express wishes, when you are no longer able to speak for yourself.

The second goal of an advanced healthcare directive or living will is to describe—in whatever level of detail you desire—what type of care you wish to receive in the future, and what type of care you do not wish to receive, as your condition deteriorates.

Oftentimes, the issue that people have strong feelings about, which they memorialize in either an advanced healthcare directive or living will, is whether they should receive life-sustaining care, such as mechanical ventilation, when their body is no longer able to keep itself alive.

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