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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Living Will


Term Definition Living Will - an instrument setting forth a personís wishes in regard to long-term medical care in the event of incapacitation.
Application in Divorce Medical technology has reached a level whereby death can be kept at bay indefinitely. The Terry Schiavo case in Florida dramatically illustrates how brain dead people can be kept breathing when hope of recovery is but a mirage.

For many a full life is more than the aggregate of life signs, so now many people make living wills. These instruments recognize that people who are incapacitated have a right to call an end to heroic intervention that preserves an existence empty and barren of meaning and joy.

A living will spells out the terms and conditions by which the testator -- the person who has signed it -- wishes to be maintained in the event of incapacitation. Generally, it spells out acceptable and unacceptable interventions and circumstances by which treatment is to be withdrawn. Usually, a defining element in withdrawal of care includes the absence of any reasonable chance of recovery. These instruments establish a scenario for the withdrawing and withholding of life-sustaining efforts.

Living wills are permitted in almost all states. Many hospitals now request patients to make living wills, and people entering old-age care routinely make such directives.

Living wills should always be kept at hand, not locked in a bank safe deposit box.

Sometimes living wills designate a spouse as a trustee or agent of the testator.

A living will is one of several documents that has to be rewritten in the aftermath of a divorce.

See Durable Power of Attorney.

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