In the unfortunate event that you become ill or mentally incapacitated, it is important for you to have a means of expressing what medical procedures you want to be performed before you become sick. It is surprisingly easy to do so with a Living Will. When creating a Living Will, you must be of sound mind and not incapacitated. It is also generally only effective when you are terminally ill and cannot communicate your wishes to your family or physicians.
Unlike a will, which requires a person to die before it becomes effective, a Living Will is designed for the sole purpose to be effective before death. This document gives the health professionals the security they need to be able to honor your wishes, since they are extremely reluctant to even consider your wishes when you are suffering from a terminal illness. Hospitals and doctors would be subject to possible lawsuits if they were to make decisions for a terminally ill patient.
For example, hospitals or doctors do not want to be sued by family for disconnecting life-support even if the patient wishes it. It would cause "wrongful death" even if disconnection was desired by the terminally ill patient. As such, without a Living Will, the hospital would likely not disconnect a life support system from an incapacitated terminally ill patient.
With a Living Will, you can decide the exact circumstances for disconnecting any life-support treatment. You can also specify who among your family or friends and doctors will have the power to decide when to make a decision to disconnect life-support systems. Living wills help prevent these type of problems and ensures your own wishes are upheld.