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3 Things to Know About a Living Will

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

The variety of document that can be used to complete an estate plan are amazing. That usually do fall into several basic categories including Distributing property, taking care of property while you were alive, and making end-of-life decisions. The document that helps with making end-of-life decisions is known as a living will. Here are three important things to understand and know about living wills.


The living will can be called many different things. In some States they’re known as Do Not Resuscitate orders or DNR. In other states they are known as Advanced Directives. Regardless of what they are called a accomplish the same thing.

A living will is the document where you set out in very good detail the instructions you have for your doctors and Physicians about what they should and should not do to treat you when the end of your life comes. A living will presupposes that there are three specific circumstances that exist: (1) that you are terminal; (2) that you death is imminent; and (3) that you cannot communicate with you physician or medical care providers.  When the circumstances exist you have the ability to be specific with the kind of care and treatment that your Physicians can and cannot provide for you.


The next most important thing to understand is that a living will only deals with end-of-life decisions. Even though it has the term “will” in its’ name or title it is not a document that is used to distribute property or provide for those who are around you. A living will is a very specific and limited document.


The final thing that is important to understand about living Wheels is that it does control Physicians, and health care providers. However, a living will generally has no control over emergency crews or EMTs. The reason for this is that emergency crews are usually called to a scene when a person is suffering from a medical distress such as a heart attack or a stroke or some other medical condition. Under these circumstances emergency crews cannot take the time to determine whether a person has a living will or not. Rather, they are simply trying to keep the person alive and stabilized long enough to get them to the hospital so that they can receive the medical care that they need. It’s when a person arrives at the hospital that Physicians, and medical care providers can determine whether a living will exist and if so what its terms and conditions are.

If you have any questions about what a living will is, or if you need help preparing a living will, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.

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