The Living Will: Your Right To Die With Dignity

Due to advances in medical technology, there is a growing possibility that people’s lives will be prolonged against their wishes. For those who would not like their lives to be prolonged indefinitely with various medical instruments, it is vital to provide detailed instructions as to your medical wishes and elect a health care representative. A recent article discusses some basics of a living will, or in New Jersey, the Instruction Directive.

As the United States Supreme Court has held, every American has a constitutional right to be able to decide what medical treatment he or she will receive. If a person has valid legal documents in place detailing their wishes for medical care should they become unable to dictate those wishes themselves, medical professionals must follow those wishes, despite what the patient’s family may want.


When drafting your living will, consider what types of medical treatment you would and would not like to receive in the event that you could not dictate this yourself. Some treatment options include undergoing surgery, blood transfusions, testing, dialysis, taking medications, and being put on a respirator. Consider to what extent you would want treatment should you become seriously ill with no chance of recovery.

Each state has adopted laws setting forth what form of living will is acceptable and conforms to the requirements. Be sure to check with your state to make sure that your form, if you don’t use the one that that the state endorses, complies with the rules.

Because there is always room for uncertainty with written documents, consider appointing a health care representative to speak for you should your written wishes be unclear. Choose someone you trust, and be sure you discuss your wishes with them in advance, and make sure to get them a copy of the document appointing them to their role before you need it.