A Living Will is a document that allows individuals to declare their wishes in regards to healthcare if they ever fall into an incapacitated or terminally ill state. In this document, they would specify which procedures they will and will not consent to so that their wishes are honored even when they cannot speak for themselves. This document also allows a person to name an Advocate, who will make decisions that may not be specified within the living will. The state of New York does not have any specific laws that govern living will documents created and enforced in the state. While living will documents may be used in New York, the highest court in the state has held that these documents are valid, however, since there are no laws to enforce them, their interpretation is ultimately left to the individuals who must read a living will.
Because New York does not have specific laws that establish how an enforceable living will should be structured, it is important that the document be clear and concise. The first step to completing a living will is to establish the Declarant. This is done by providing the Principal's first and last name, address, gender, and phone number. Next, the Advocate will be appointed by providing his or her name, address, and telephone number. The Declarant will then go into detail about specific life-prolonging treatments that he or she will consent to and which ones he or she will not consent to. For example, the Declarant may consent to treatments such as CPR and blood transfusions but may refuse feeding and hydration tubes. Next, the Declarant will provide information on his or her primary care physician and also list any anatomical donations if they wish to donate any organs or body parts should they pass away. Finally, the Declarant should date and sign the document, along with having it notarized or signed by two (2) unrelated witnesses.