A living will is a document by which you can express in writing your end of life medical care decisions. In the event you should become incapacitated, it would be impossible for your medical care providers to ask you questions regarding your care. In the event of a terminal illness or permanent vegetative state, a living will can be the definitive document for what life saving treatment you may want or explicitly not want. By preparing a living will, you give clear instruction to your medical care providers what your wishes are and you lift the burden of making such decisions off of your loved ones. A living will does not become valid until you are in a completely incapacitated state and means of ultimate recovery are hopeless. This document also usually requires certification by a doctor to state your condition before becoming valid.
The living will also can name a particular person to have the authority to instruct the medical care providers as to your wishes and to enter “do not resuscitate” orders. This prevents a split in who may instruct the medical providers as to your wishes and can avoid conflict between individuals who may each wish to contribute to the decision. While it may not completely prevent conflict, it does clearly instruct the medical providers as to whom they are to turn if decisions need to be made.