A Living Will is another vehicle for having your wishes carried out, but it can be problematic. With a Living Will, you spell out your instructions regarding end-of-life decision making in a formal written document. The difficulty is in its interpretation. Common phraseology such as “if there is little hope of recovery, I would not want heroic measures to be taken to preserve my life,” may mean different things to different family members. Where one sees a hopeless situation, another believes there’s a chance of recovery. Heroic to one, is ordinary to another. Consequently, there is simply no reliable way of writing a Living Will that is unequivocal, and that covers all possible medical contingencies and viewpoints.

If you wish to put something in writing, we suggest that you write a letter to your health care agent, explaining your personal feelings about end of life decision making.