When my sister and I had to had to make a very difficult decision to take our terminally mother off life support last year, facing the decision was a little more comforting because we had discussed the circumstances with my mother over a year prior to her passing away. Her doctor also helped us in that decision.
But there were particular care choices we didn’t discuss with her that a living will would have been useful for at the time. Well, a new iPad app called iLivingWill, and several similar online sites that create a Living Will that might be helpful to a lot of people.
You can of course create a living will at any time in your life, even when you’re young, healthy, and in sound mind. The same goes for your loved ones. But typically we don’t want to face these types of decisions until we or a loved one are facing a terminally ill condition. But by then it could be too late.
A living will allows you, or a proxy decision maker, to make detailed decisions about medical care and comfort care options, donor status, and even after-death wishes that you want fulfilled. And pardon the pun, but a living will never dies unless you trash it. As long as you’re in sound mind, you can go back and change your living will at any time.
iLivingWill ($0.99) is the first resource I have ever come across about making a living will, and in my view it seems to set the standard for what a living will should probably be like.
iLivingWill is a beautifully designed and pretty easy-to-follow iPad app. It includes step-by-step instructions and resources for creating a living will.
iLivingWill covers living will legalities; recording, protecting, and sharing your will; as well as all the common decisions you will want to make – including medical care responses, such as CPR, electroshock, intubation, medications, artificial nutrition, spiritual care, and donor status.
You will probably not want to complete your living will in one setting. Take your time and discuss it with one or more family members, and if need be, your doctor.
iLivingWill contains a few other features that make it well worth the modest price. It contains links to a number of online resources for living will and death-related issues, from a Wikipedia history of living wills, to green burial practices, to state-by-state information about POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.) All the links are viewed from within the app.
You can preview your living will as a document anytime during the process. The app allows you to change the font size of the text. It also includes a text to audio player, but for some reason it doesn’t work on my iPad. You also navigate between sections of the form by swiping your finger left and right on the screen. As you work through the will, each section is checked off when completed.
When you’re all done, you can sign the document from within the app. You can also email or print your living will directly from the app using Air Print.
The app can be used by more than one person, and each individual living will be assigned a passcode.
If you don’t have an iPad, there are several free online resources that provide pretty much the same process. Legacy Writer provides a step-by-step process for creating a customized living will that can be downloaded or emailed for free.
For a fee, you can add a Power of Attorney to oversee your will. The site also covers the difference between a living will and a last will & testament – the latter of which allows you to specific who will receive your estate upon your death.
For state by state directives about living wills, check out US Legal Forms. It includes do-it-yourself legal solutions, and the site’s documents comply with current state laws.
You certainly should do your research for the type of living will form and other legal matters that fit your particular needs. But most importantly don’t shy away from completing a living will. They can greatly assist your family members and physician about the type of medical care and after-death options you prefer, especially in cases of terminal illness or if you unexpectedly die.
Let us know what you think of iLivingWill and similar online resources. For other afterlife resources, check out my earlier article, 4 Online Resources To Prepare For Your Death & Digital Afterlife .