Personal Directive (Living Will) Frequently Asked Questions
- How specific can I be when leaving directions in a personal directive?
- Can I request euthanasia in a personal directive?
- I would like my organs to be donated. Should I specify this in my personal directive (living will)?
- Can I write a personal directive myself?
- My personal directive (living will) is 10 years old. Do I need a new one?
- What do I do with my personal directive after it is signed and ready to go?
- I want to make a personal directive but my family doesn’t want to talk about it. How can I be sure they will follow my instructions?
- Can I just tell my family my wishes?
You can be as specific as you wish. Some people do not want anything done to keep them alive if they require life support while others want certain things done depending on the situation.
No. Instructions for euthanasia cannot be enforced.
Yes. Your personal directive is the ideal place to specify which organs, if any, you want to donate.
We recommend getting advice and assistance from your lawyer and your doctor when creating a personal directive. This ensures the will is legal, that you understand everything clearly, and that you are making the right medical choices for you.
You don’t necessarily need a new one but you should review your personal directive every few years. Medicine is always evolving and you may have ruled out procedures that are no longer risky.
Unlike the directions in regular wills, the directions in living wills or personal directives need to be carried out quickly, often in emergency situations. Some people carry a card in their wallet that informs hospital personnel that they have a personal directive and want a certain person to make decisions for them. You should also tell your family, the agent you have appointed, and your doctor about your directions and where they can find your personal directive if they need it.
I want to make a personal directive but my family doesn’t want to talk about it. How can I be sure they will follow my instructions?
Emotions can run high when you are planning for the end of life and family members can find it difficult to deal with your decisions. In such situations, it can be better to appoint someone from outside your family, such as a friend or trusted colleague, as your agent.
You can also remind your family that having a personal directive is responsible and will help them care for you in a way that is respectful and desired.
No. You must write your wishes in a legal personal directive. If you do not, there is no legal obligation to follow your wishes.