In the event you become both mentally and physically incapacitated and can no longer make end-of-life choices yourself, a properly drafted Living Will (also called an Advance Directive) states your wishes and a plan of action regarding medical treatment and life-sustaining measures.
A Living Will is a document which states whether or not you want to be put on life support if you become are both mentally and physically incapacitated, and terminally ill, in an end-stage condition or in a persistent vegetative state and your attending physician says there is no reasonable expectation of recovery. In addition, it addresses other important issues such as tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain medication.
A Living Will is only effective if you are not able to communicate your wishes on your own.
The key is to put your wishes in writing, so others will know what they are, and make sure that your physician(s) and family have a copy of the document or know where to get a copy of it immediately. Without direction from you with these legal documents, your family members and health care professionals can easily become uncertain about treatment decisions. When family members disagree about what course to follow, the consequences are sometimes rifts that are never resolved.
Having a Living Will (and a power of attorney) in place you can direct what kind of extraordinary measures you do or not want while also naming someone to make sure your wishes are carried out. Your Living Will may be one of the most important Estate Planning documents you ever make. Giving your loved ones clear written direction about your final wishes can spare them not only additional grief but puts you in control of making sure you get the kind of care you want.