Simple End-of-Life Planning: The Five Wishes Living Will

The Five Wishes living will makes it easier to plan for end of life

Knowing someone’s end-of-life wishes is important

End of life seems like a scary topic to bring up with your older adult, but many seniors actually feel relieved after sharing their wishes.

Working with your older adult to complete a living will or advance directive helps you understand and legally document their wishes for end-of-life care.

Plus, doing this before a health emergency saves you from making those hard choices without their input during a crisis.

To make this complex topic easier to handle, we found a wonderful, easy-to-use, low-cost living will form called Five Wishes.

It focuses on personal values and how your older adult wants to be treated at the end of life.

We explain what the Five Wishes living will is, why it’s so easy to use, how much it costs, and which states accept it.


Five Wishes is a simple way to legally document end-of-life wishes

Five Wishes is a commonly used living will form in the United States that’s been embraced by families, community groups, faith communities, and medical and legal providers.

It’s inexpensive, written in plain everyday language, and covers personal, spiritual, medical and legal wishes all in one document.

Having this document makes it easy for people to express their wishes for end-of-life care so family or caregivers know exactly what they want and don’t have to guess.

Plus, it’s legally valid in nearly every state and available in 30 languages.

Five Wishes is especially helpful for families because it focuses on the fundamentals that matter most, like values and personal goals, rather than on specific treatments or medical procedures.

See a sample Five Wishes document here.

Note: Even though Five Wishes is an excellent form, it’s only one type of living will document. If you’re not sure if this form is right for your older adult’s situation, check with an elder law attorney.


A legal document that doesn’t have any confusing “legal-ese”

Five Wishes isn’t another confusing legal document.

It uses clearly worded questions and plainly-stated choices to help people express their wishes for care.

Each section includes common end-of-life preferences, which can be used as-is or changed to suit your older adult’s wishes. There’s also room for anything they’d like to add.

If you’d like help starting the conversation or filling out the Five Wishes form, The Conversation Project offers many helpful free guides for starting conversations about end of life.


It costs $5 and is accepted in most U.S. states

The Five Wishes paper form costs just $5 and it meets the state’s legal requirements in most U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For four states (New Hampshire, Kansas, Ohio, or Texas), the Five Wishes advance directive can still be used, but you may need to take an extra step. Find out more here.


Next Step  Find out more about the Five Wishes living will


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Hospice Home Care


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