Numerous living will templates exist and are available to you, often at no charge. These include the Minnesota Statutory Health Care Living Will; the Minnesota Statute § 145C Health Care Directive; and many others. Using such formal documents can certainly “get the job done.” But it can feel awkward and cold.
We’ve found an alternative that’s not as “cut and dried.” It’s an easy-to-use form called “FIVE WISHES.” It lets you state your desires exactly, and has been described as:
“the first living will that talks about your personal, emotional and spiritual needs—as well as your medical wishes.”
Discussing end-of-life plans is important, and completing FIVE WISHES is easy. All you have to do is “check a box, circle a direction, or write a few sentences.” The process will give you an opportunity to discuss your desires with family, friends and your doctor, so they can know just what you want. They won’t have to guess, so it will spare them hard choices.
FIVE WISHES was developed by a man named Jim Towey, who spent a year in a hospice Mother Teresa ran in Washington. Mr. Towey’s desire to find a way for patients and their families to plan ahead for serious illness led to the development of FIVE WISHES. It has been called the “first living will with a heart.”
FIVE WISHES is for anyone, age 18 or older in the District of Columbia, or any of 40 states–including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. If you already have a living will or durable power of attorney for health care and would like to use FIVE WISHES instead, don’t worry. All you need to do to switch is fill out and sign a new form. Then destroy all copies of your old documents (or write “revoked” in large letters across your copy). Be sure to notify your lawyer if he/she helped prepare the old forms for you, and tell your doctor, family members and those close to you that you have completed FIVE WISHES.
So, just what are the FIVE WISHES ?
WISH 1: The person I want to make health care decisions for me when I can’t make them for myself. This person will be identified as your HEALTH CARE AGENT.
WISH 2: My wish for the kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want.
WISH 3: My wish for how comfortable I want to be.
WISH 4: My wish for how I want people to treat me.
WISH 5: My wish for what I want my loved ones to know.
Each of these is spelled out in easy-to-read detail on the document. Completion of your FIVE WISHES will need to be witnessed by two people, signed and notarized.
When your form is completed:
Talk to your HEALTH CARE AGENT and those close to you. Give them copies of your completed FIVE WISHES.
Keep the original you signed in a special place in your home—not in a safe deposit box! It needs to be nearby and easy to find when you need it.
A wallet card will be included with your FIVE WISHES form. Carry this with you wherever you go so people will know where to find your FIVE WISHES form.
Give your doctor a copy of your FIVE WISHES. Ask him/her to place it in your medical record and to direct other caregivers to honor your wishes. Then be sure to list who has received a copy of your FIVE WISHES on your form.