What is a living will?
Living wills (sometimes also called “advance health care directives”) allow you to specify what kind of care and medical treatment you would want if you ever get so ill that you can no longer make decisions for yourself. That might happen if, for example, you're unable to communicate because you've gone into a coma as a result of an illness or accident, or as you approach the end of life.
The living will can also include information on when you don’t want medical help. For example, you might specify that you don’t want to be fed through a tube, put on a breathing machine (ventilator) or have surgery.
Please note that some of the following information describes the situation in Germany specifically. You may find that things are different elsewhere.
In Germany, anybody aged 18 or over can write a living will. They have to sign it themselves. They can also use a handwritten mark instead, but that has to be certified by a notary. This certification isn’t needed if there's a signature.