How to Start a Living Will

by Jack Ori ; Updated July 27, 2017

Create a living will, also known as an advance directive, to ensure that your health care providers respect your wishes if you become incapacitated. You can do this yourself without an attorney. Do it while you are still of sound mind and body to make your living will enforceable.

Step 1

Talk to your family about your wishes should you become incapacitated. Discuss your feelings about life-saving medical procedures should you become comatose or unconscious, and about end-of-life treatment. Designate your spouse or sibling as your health care agent.

Step 2

Complete a health care proxy form to give your designated representative the legal power to make decisions for you if needed. Get the form from any hospital. Provide the name and address of your health care agent, and specify what decisions he may make for you. Have two witnesses over the age of 18 sign the form. Make a copy of the form and give it to your agent. Keep the other copy on your person. Always bring it with you if you go to the hospital for any reason.

Step 3

Visit the website for your state government. You can often find laws regarding living wills as well as the form you need to fill out to start your living will. Find the document called an "Advance Directive Regarding Natural Death." If you cannot find the form online, contact your Secretary of State by telephone and ask where you can obtain the necessary form.

Step 4

Fill out the form. Put your name at the top of the form and initial by each statement that reflects your desires. For example, the living will may list life-saving measures you want to be taken if you are incapacitated.

Step 5

Indicate whether your health care agent may override your living will if you are incapacitated by initialing your form or by writing a statement about it. If you do not give permission for him to override your living will, your will supersedes his decisions.

Step 6

Sign the form in front of a notary. Make copies for yourself, your doctor and your health care agent. Return the original form to the secretary of state for your state with any required filing fee.

About the Author

Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.