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10 Steps to Creating a Living Will

Decide What You Want

So you've decided to make a living will. What should it contain? Your living will should contain statements both general and specific about your choices for medical care. For example, you may write that you want only procedures or treatments that will make you more comfortable and not anything that would prolong your life at the cost of inflicting pain. Furthermore, you may decide that you don't want to be subjected to certain procedures if you are in an irreversible condition, such as a persistent vegetative state.

Living wills often contain lists of procedures that you would and would not want performed. These lists should be made after consultation with your family members, doctors and any other experts you wish to consult. Your preferences may vary, depending on your wishes and beliefs and on your pre-existing medical conditions. You may decide that you would not mind a feeding tube but that a ventilator is a bridge too far; or that you'd like antibiotics but don't want to be resuscitated. A frequent question asked in this process is, under what conditions would you want to be alive?

While difficult, these sorts of choices can be particularly important if you're suffering from a terminal condition. They can help make certain that you or your loved ones' last days are spent as comfortable as possible.