A living will is a type of advance directive. It allows you to record in writing, what type of care you want at the end of your life, should you have a terminal illness. The living will is basically an instruction list to your family, friends, and health care providers. In a living will, you specifically outline what type of care you want in certain situations, and what type of care you don’t want. With a living will, you are preparing in advance to have a voice in your medical care even if you can no longer talk or make decisions.
Completing a living will is a serious decision. You should talk with your physician about living wills to ensure that you completely understand the options and ramifications.
Consulting an attorney whenever you are contemplating end-of-life decisions may be helpful as well. Your individual situation may make some decisions more complicated than it seems at first. Some people find that talking to their family, a trusted friend, or spiritual advisor can be helpful in thinking through these types of decisions. A living will is a legal document. In Kansas, you do not need a lawyer to complete the form, as Kansas statutes offer “fill-in-the-blank” forms that you may complete on your own. It is recommended that you use these forms if you are not using the services of an attorney. State laws vary, though, so you want to be sure that you know other states’ requirements if you plan on moving or if you are caring for someone out-of-state. A good place to find more information about a state’s policies on advance directives such as the living will is the health department or the state office on aging. You can also ask a physician, health care provider or legal advisor for more information.
A living will can be changes at any time, and should be reviewed and updated periodically. Thinking about what you desire at the end of life is an important task.
Communicate with your family and health care providers. Keep copies of your advance directives available in case of emergency.
For additional information, contact the Wildcat Extension District, Crawford County, 620-724-8233, Labette County, 620-784-5337, Montgomery County, 620-331-2690, Pittsburg Office, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP), 620-232-1930.