How to Fill Out a Living Will

••• Hand and document at the meeting image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from

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A living will is a document that spells out your wishes regarding medical treatments or procedures you would receive from any medical provider in the event you would not be able to express your wishes yourself. A living will is necessary in the case of any unforeseen emergency because it can ensure that family members know what to do in certain life or death situations with regard to your health care.

Find online printable living will documents that are available free of charge. Living will requirements vary by state and therefore must be retrieved using the form from your state of residence in order to be valid. (See Resources)

Follow the instructions on the living will form and insert any personal information and directives you wish to be initiated. Insert your full name and select any procedures or treatments you do not wish to receive should the need ever arise. Examples of those procedures could include the use of a respirator or other mechanical intervention.

Make sure you describe in detail what medical procedures you want to be performed should you stop breathing or experience any other trauma that leaves you unable to communicate for yourself. Most living will forms include an option to designate one person to handle any medical decisions if you are unable; however, this is not a requirement. Living wills also can have an option where you can specify if you wish to donate your organs; this, too, not a requirement.

Sign the living will form in front of two witnesses and have it notarized. A notary can be found at most any government or legal office in your area, and you can expect to pay a small nominal fee for this service. You and the witnesses will be required to give addresses and show identification for legal purposes.


  • Make copies of your living will and keep one with you at all times in case of emergencies. Copies of your living will can be distributed to a family member, lawyer, safe deposit box or other places in case of emergency.
  • Living will forms are also available through most area health departments for free.



About the Author

Kimberly Cummings has been a nurse for more than 28 years and has worked in almost every department in the medical field. She's done legal work and is a nonfiction writer. She has worked in business administration for more than 15 years, been in the military and freelanced for Associated Content as a featured health and wellness contributor as well as a featured travel contributor.

Photo Credits

  • Hand and document at the meeting image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from