What is a living will?

A living will—also called an advance directive, advance healthcare directive, or medical directive—is a legal document that provides your written instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. The directive gives guidance to doctors and caregivers if you become terminally ill, are seriously injured, suffer from dementia, or otherwise become incapacitated. By planning ahead with an advance healthcare directive, you decide on the kind of medical care you want and relieve family members and loved ones from having to make difficult choices on your behalf. Because end-of-life situations can occur to anyone at any age and time, advance directives are an important part of every estate plan.