By issuing a living will testators can determine how they wish to be treated in the event of illness or in the case of an accident if they have lost capacity of judgement. In the living will they can determine what medical treatment they agree to and what treatment they reject. A testator can also stipulate that all treatment options are no longer to be exhausted in certain situations.
Through the precise instructions in a living will testators can ensure that the only medical treatment that is administered is treatment that is supported by the will of the testator. In a living will testators can designate one or several persons to whom they are close and who are to take the decisions regarding medical treatment in the event of the testator losing capacity of judgement. If a living will is integrated into an advance care directive, it is subject to the same strict formal requirements (handwriting or public authentication). If it is formulated separately, it must be in writing (but it does not have to be hand-written). In addition, the living will must be dated and signed.
Pre-formulated forms or individually composed dispositions can be used. Individually formulated living wills can be more precisely adapted to the testator’s life situation. This limits room for interpretation and makes it possible to set out precise instructions. In the case of changing circumstances with regard to the testator’s life situation or state of health it is advisable to review the living will at regular intervals and adjust it if necessary.
In order for a living will to be taken into account in the event of the loss of capacity of judgement, it makes sense to deposit it with a trusted physician or another person of trust. In addition, it is possible to have the existence of a living will entered on one’s personal health insurance card.