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 the most commonly used living will form in the U.S.

Since 1998, over 30 million Americans have used Five Wishes and more than 40,000 organizations endorse and distribute the document.

It’s inexpensive, written in plain language, and uses a straightforward Q & A format to help people express their wishes for end-of-life care. It’s also available in 28 languages.

This form 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 form, Five Wishes also offers a helpful free conversation guide.


It costs $5 and works in 42 states

The Five Wishes form costs $5 plus the fee for a notary public to witness the signatures.

And it’s a valid legal document in 42 U.S. states.

Page 3 of the sample document shows which states accept it. It also explains why it might still be useful to complete the form even if it’s not legally valid in your older adult’s state.


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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