The “Living Will” is a bit of a misnomer. Technically, a will means nothing and has absolutely no effect unless and until the person that made it (the “testator”) dies. Up until then, it is just a piece of paper. This is why we have Powers of Attorney. A Power of Attorney can be effective and enforceable during the lifetime of the person who made it.
However, the concept of a Living Will became popular in the United States of America and the name has stuck for a document that tells the named executor therein what the testator’s wishes are should the testator be at death’s door but not yet passed the threshold.
The standard statement in a Living Will is that if the testator is brain dead, being kept alive on life support and there is no likelihood of recovery, then the Living Will voices the testator’s desire to be taken off of life support without any heroic measures being taken to prolong his or her life.
The same goes if the testator is in a coma in excess of a month without any hope of recovery.
Of course, if these terms are desired by the testator, we also include the same provisions into the Power of Attorney for Personal Care. This makes the testator’s intentions abundantly clear, but the Power of Attorney for Personal Care is the document that the physicians and nursing staff at the hospital will most interested in, and they will take their instructions from the person named as the Attorney if the testator is unable to give instructions personally.