living will

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A living will is a type of advance directive that lists a person's wishes about medical treatment in the event that the person cannot give informed consent or refusal. A living will commonly includes specific directives on which life-sustaining measures can and cannot be used in cases of extreme disability without reasonable expectation of recovery. 

If a health care provider administers life-sustaining treatment against a patient’s living will, the provider could be sued for medical battery. However, if the health care provider is unaware of the patient’s living will, the medical battery claim will be unsuccessful.

Different jurisdictions have passed legislation, such as the Uniform Health Care Decisions Act, legally validating living wills and recognizing an individual’s right to decide all aspects of one’s health care.

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]