Here’s what Ilyce had to say on the Ilyce Glink Show, April 3, 2005

A living will doesn’t have anything to do with your assets, money, or other property. It tells others how you wish to be treated when you’re dying. It lets you make the decision whether to withhold or withdraw artificial hydration, nutrition, and other life sustaining procedures, like being hooked up to a ventilator and, it kicks in if you’re in a coma or persistant vegetative state.

You clearly get to make the decision on whether or not to get hooked up. Pope John Paul II declined to go to the hospital at the end of his life. That’s a choice he made. Living wills allow you to make your own choice.

Can you withdraw feeding tubes and the rest once you’re on it? In some states, there is a question as to whether the living will allows “sustenance†to be withdrawn. That’s why you also need the durable power of attorney for health care.

Durable power of attorney for health care allows you to appoint an agent to carry out many more medical treatment decisions and choose the kind of care you would have wanted – if you could make those decisions; and, kicks in when you can no longer make your own medical decisions, like a coma, or if you have Alzheimers, or if you’re in surgery and a decision needs to be made.

Once you’ve signed your living will and powers of attorney, make sure you make copies of these important documents and distribute them.

Talk to your family about your decisions, so they’re not surprised later on.

Talk with your doctor about it. Most people don’t know, but your doctor can refuse to honor your living wil. But if he or she refuses to honor your wishes, the doctor is supposed to help transfer your care to a physician or hospital that will honor them. That can be sticky, so talking to your doctor now can help you figure out if you need to make other arrangements.

Free copies of blank living wills, durable powers of health care are available, typically from a state’s department on aging. In Georgia, it’s the division of aging services within the department of human resources. Go to and link to the DHR.

And while you’re at it, think about signing a durable power of attorney for financial matters as well. You want someone to be able to pay the bills if you’re unable to.

What happens if you don’t make this decision?

As Emeril says, let’s kick it up a notch…. You take an already really stressful time and make it a whole lot worse.

Need personal finance advice or real estate advice? Send your questions to Ilyce Glink:

April 5, 2005.