Common Misconceptions

7 Common Misconceptions about Living Wills

If you’re not completely sure what a living will is and how it works, you’re not alone. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about living wills and advance directives.

Misconception 1:

A living will is the same as a last will and testament.


A living will provides clear instructions for your end-of-life medical treatment preferences. It may also include an advance directive, which specifies a spokesperson to communicate those treatment preferences on your behalf. A living will is a document that can protect your quality of life in your final days before death.

A last will and testament, which is commonly referred to as simply a “will,” allocates property and possessions to beneficiaries. In other words, it is a document that determines procedures after death.

Misconception 2:

A living will is the same as a DNR (do not resuscitate). If I have a living will, it tells doctors that I want to have treatment withheld, and doctors may let me die even though there was a chance for recovery.


Although a living will can include DNR orders, a living will specifies both which treatments you don’t want to receive and which treatments you do want to receive. You can choose as little or as much healthcare as you want.

A living will only goes into effect if it has been medically determined by your physician that you have no probable chance of recovery. Even if your living will specifies that you would not like to receive CPR, this treatment will only be withheld if you are determined to be terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state.

Misconception 3:

I should wait to create a living will. I don’t need one until I’m older, and I shouldn’t make one until I’m absolutely certain which treatments I would want to receive.


You shouldn’t wait to create a living will. Even if you’re young, life can sometimes bring the unexpected. Preparing before it’s too late can prevent conflicts and uncertainty among your loved ones. If something happens when you’re young, it can have even more impact on family members because of the longer amount of time potentially sustained on artificial life support and other measures.

You will likely always have some amount of uncertainty about the decisions expressed in your living will. Your Keystone Digital Living Will leaves allows you to express any uncertainty as well as make changes to your decisions at any time, for no additional cost.

Misconception 4:

My family knows my treatment preferences, so I don’t need a living will. My family will be able to make medical decisions for me even if I don’t have a living will and advance directive.


Which of your family members know your treatment preferences? What if one family member remembers something slightly different than another? What if you forgot to specify a certain type of treatment?

Recording your treatment preferences, along with your beliefs and values, prevents any uncertainty. This can protect your family members from a potentially long-term disagreement about which treatment you wanted or which treatment would have been best.

In most cases, if you don’t have a living will and advance directive your doctor is the only one who can decide which treatments you receive. An advance directive makes sure they consult with the individual you choose.

Misconception 5:

If I name a spokesperson or healthcare proxy, I give up my right to make medical decisions for myself.


As long as you are competent, you always have the right to make your own medical decisions and to override the any decision of your healthcare proxy.

You also have the right to revoke the role of spokesperson or healthcare proxy—or to hand that responsibility to a different individual. Keystone Digital Living Will allows you to make unlimited changes at any time, including changing your spokesperson.

Misconception 6:

Doctors are not obligated to follow the instructions in my living will.


Doctors are legally required to follow your instructions so long as your instructions do not break any laws or regulations of the state in which they are being performed.

To prevent any uncertainty, specifying a spokesperson in your living will and advance directive can ensure that someone is able to communicate your decisions on your behalf and be your voice when you are unable to speak.

Misconception 7:

I have to see my lawyer and spend a lot of money to create a living will.


Keystone Digital Living Will is affordably priced and adds even more value by letting you access and make unlimited changes to the document anywhere, at any time.

Instead of legal jargon, Keystone Digital Living Will provides expert video guidance from a leading physician, so you can complete it with confidence in the comfort of your home.

Upon electronic signature of you and two witnesses, it becomes a legal, implementable document, without the need for a lawyer.

Ready to create your living will? Take 10 minutes now and create peace of mind for life. Click here to get started.

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