Skip to main content Skip to search

Living Wills

Living Wills


Living Wills are not legal documents, but they do work hand-in-hand with your Health Care Proxy.  While you designate the individual you want the health care professionals to look to in the event you cannot express your own health care decisions when completing a Health Care Proxy, a Living Will is a more personal document.  A Living Will allows you to tell your health care agent what your personal wishes are – especially when it comes to end of life care.  Do you want to use artificial life support, hydration measures, or feeding tubes for extended periods of time?  These are very personal decisions. A Living Will allows you to express your wishes now while you are still capable of communicating them to your trusted health care agent.


If you do not have a Living Will, the decisions made regarding types and length of treatment given to you may become a dispute between family members and doctors, and could result in the need for judicial proceedings to determine your wishes. There is no way to be sure these decisions will be consistent with your wishes. Having a Living Will helps ensure that you have made clear your wishes for the decisions made regarding your medical care.

A Living Will is different from a Health Care Proxy. It does not appoint an agent to make your decisions. It serves as a way to express in greater detail the types of decisions you would want the Agent designated in your Health Care Proxy to make. The Health Care Proxy is a document specific to New York State and therefore may not be honored in another state. However, most states have Living Will Statutes, and so a Living Will may be honored in another state. In addition, a Living Will can serve as “clear and convincing evidence” of your wishes, making it unnecessary for a hospital to involve a judge in order to determine your wishes.

There are no formal requirements for executing a Living Will. It is suggested that to be sure the Living Will constitutes “clear and convincing evidence” of your wishes, you should put your desires in writing, and sign and date the document in the presence of two witnesses.

Yes. A Living Will can be revoked, altered, or amended at any time.