Does your family or doctor know your wishes when it comes to end-of-life decisions due to serious illness or injury?


If you are interested in putting your wishes on record legally, you might want to investigate the U.S. Living Will Registry ( This registry will electronically store advance directives and organ donor information, and makes these documents available to health care providers 24 hours a day securely via automated Internet or telephone/fax systems.

You can make your choices known in an advance directive, which is a legal document in which you state how you want to be treated if you become very ill and there is no reasonable hope for your recovery. Laws vary from state to state, but there are basically two kinds of advance directives:

  1. A living will is a legal document in which you state the kind of health care you want or don't want under certain circumstances.
  2. A health care proxy (or durable health care power of attorney) is a legal document in which you name someone close to you to make decisions about your health care if you become incapacitated.

The website has a Q-and-A section that will help you with most questions you may have. The site also contains legal forms and the process to register your advanced directive.