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It is quite common, however, for you to appoint one or more alternate persons (successors) in the event your first choice proxy is unavailable.You should confirm prior to appointing someone as your proxy that he or she will in fact be willing and able to carry out your wishes.A living will applies in situations in which the decision to use such treatments may prolong your life for a limited period of time and not obtaining such treatment would result in your death.Having a living will does not mean that medical professionals would deny you pain medications and other treatments that would relieve pain or otherwise make you more comfortable.

Rather than the physician having to obtain a consensus answer from your family as to your treatment, the physician knows your preferences and knows who you want to provide decisions when you cannot do so.

For example, some of the commonly used clauses in living wills may forbid the provision of assisted breathing, including devices you presently may be using if, for example, you are living with COPD.

Most important, many of the provisions of such a document have profound religious and philosophical implications.

But even if you use a standard or statutory form, you should review it to be sure that it comports with your personal wishes.

Never sign a document presented to you as standard unless you have read and understood it and confirmed that it does in fact reflect your desires.

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