If you have no one you can appoint to be your health care agent, or you do not wish to appoint one, yet you still want to make your wishes about your health care preferences known, a Living Will is a legally valid way of recording these instructions. This information will provide evidence of your wishes should you become incapable of making treatment decisions.
General instructions about refusing treatment, even if written down, may not be effective if they do not meet the "clear and convincing proof" test. Further, expressions of intent regarding unforeseen circumstances or new developments in technology cannot be reflected in a Living Will unless it is routinely updated.
A Living Will is a document in which you can give specific instructions about your health care treatment, as well as express your attitudes and wishes about your health care. A Health Care Proxy is different because it allows you to choose someone you trust to make treatment decisions on your behalf in case you lose your decision-making capacity. With a Health Care Proxy, you don't need to know in advance what will happen to you or what your medical needs might be in the future.
Yes. If you complete a Health Care Proxy form, but also have a Living Will, the Living Will provides instructions for your health care agent, and will guide his or her decisions. Copies of your Living Will should be given to your health care agent. You will want to have your health care agent share the views expressed in the Living Will with your health care providers to make sure your wishes are understood. With both documents, if you include a statement of your preferences regarding your medical treatment, it will provide additional useful guidance.
Since the legalities of a document such as this can be very complex, it is suggested that you consult your own legal advisor prior to execution of this document.