Taking a Closer Look at Advance Directives- What is a Living Will and When Do You Need One

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If you were in a hospital and incapacitated, do you know who you would want by your side to make decisions on your behalf? Under this scenario, it is important to ensure that your decisions are made the way you want, when you want. In this article, we will be examining advance directives in Maryland.

It’s important to understand that in the state of Maryland, there are two important parts to consider: the first part involves designating a healthcare agent. The second part, which we will be taking a closer look at, is known as a Living Will. This includes written instructions detailing the healthcare preferences you have in the event of a terminal condition, persistent vegetative state, or end-stage condition.

The three scenarios (terminal condition, persistent vegetative state, and end-stage condition) each come with their own unique concerns, and Maryland’s living will include instructions that cover all three. For example, these instructions involve decisions related to pain management and resuscitation.

When crafting your instructions, it is crucial to think about your values. How significant is independence and self-sufficiency to you? Do you want treatment to extend your life in all situations, or only specific ones? Which particular life-saving measures are you comfortable with? Under what circumstances would you no longer prefer to continue treatment?

While these questions are difficult to confront, they are necessary to ensure that your final wishes are carried out. Leaving your loved ones to make heartbreaking decisions on your behalf without any guidance leaves them flying blind. Thinking about an advance directive might seem overwhelming at first, but there are concrete steps you can take now to set your plan in motion, such as:

  1. Think about your values.
  2. Consult with your doctor about the options available to you.
  3. Consider carefully who you would feel comfortable entrusting with making decisions on your behalf.
  4. Talk to that person about your wishes to ensure they are prepared for the role

This article is for educational purposes only, not to provide specific legal advice. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

For assistance with Maryland and D.C. wills, estate planning and probate, contact the

Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC at


Attorney Elsa W. Smith