A living will is a document that allows you to explain what care you want to receive in the future if you are not able to communicate or think clearly. A living will could take effect if you are injured in an accident or if you have a severe, life-threatening or life-ending illness.
The laws regarding living wills are controlled by individual state governments. In some states, there is no specific document required to make a living will a legal statement of your wishes. These eight states require that any living will instructions include a state specific form:
• New Hampshire
If you live in one of these states, be sure to include a copy of the state form along with any other living will documents you chose to fill out. The website Caring Connections offers a list of advance directive requirements by state. At that website you can read and download legal forms for all 50 U.S. States and the District of Columbia. For example, Arizona does not require a specific form to be used, but does require that all living wills either be notarized or that you and an adult witness both sign the form. The witness cannot be related to you, cannot be your Health Care Agent, and cannot inherit anything from you when you die. These requirements vary by state, so be sure to check out the rules for the state you live in.
A living will gives you the chance to provide specific instructions for your health care team. The questions on a living will form are written to help you specify how much and what kind of care you want if you are seriously injured or have a terminal condition (a condition that will result in your death). You may choose to request that you receive all available care to prolong your life for as long as possible no matter how sick you are. Or you can request basic care such as food and water to help you be comfortable with no aggressive treatments if you have a terminal condition.