A Living Will, sometimes called an Advanced Directive, is a document that states what treatment you wish or do not wish to receive in the event that you are terminally ill with no hope of recovery. The Living Will becomes operative only when your doctor certifies that you are incapable of making your own decisions AND you are terminally ill with no hope of recovery. The Living Will essentially states that the signer does not wish to receive treatment that prolongs the process of dying once that condition is reached, and directs that treatment be limited to providing comfort and pain relief.
The Living Will names a Health Care Agent. The Living Will also elects whether the Health Care Agent must follow your directions or whether the Agent may substitute his or her own judgment in regard to your treatment.
The provision for how "end of life" treatment is to be handled relieves our loved one of the stress of making these important decisions for us and also reduces the likelihood of family conflict at a very stressful time in the life of a family. Of course, it also protects us from the pain of treatments which will prolong the dying process.