The term “living will” is often confused with Last Will and Testament. Unlike a Last Will and Testament, which takes effect at your death, a living will concerns the nature of the medical treatment you receive prior to your death. A living will is a written legal document in which a person directs the implementation or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures in the event he or she suffers from a continual, profound comatose state or is diagnosed with a terminable, irreversible condition and cannot communicate his or her wishes.
A living will authorizes your agent to enforce your wishes, whether that is terminating life-sustaining measures such as a feeding tube, or removing all life support. The benefit of the living will is that it drastically increases the likelihood that your wishes are honored, while simultaneously providing some level of comfort to those family members who are burdened with the painful obligation of making end-of-life decisions regarding a loved one.