Even individuals who know very little about estate planning are probably familiar with the concept of a will. Naturally, a will outlines your wishes about what the courts are to do with your property and other assets after you die. 
 
However, not all aspects of estate planning come into effect after death. It is possible to enact a will that takes place while you are still alive: this is a living will. According to US News & World Report, a living will outlines your wishes in the event that you are medically incapacitated. 
 
What can a living will do? 
 
Americans are living longer than ever these days, but there are many ways that you could still be alive yet not have the faculties to make decisions for yourself. For example, being in a car accident or suffering from a stroke can render you incapable of decision-making. If there is a history of dementia in your family, it is important to make arrangements while you are still able to make them.

 A living will can outline your wishes for medical treatment in the event that you are not sentient. For instance, a living will outline steps to take in the case of a do not resuscitate possibility, and can also dictate wishes for organ donation. 
 
Do I need a living will? 

Living wills are generally helpful, but not everybody needs one. If you have particularly strong feelings on life support, for instance, you may want to have a living will to ensure that you get the treatment you desire. Particularly if you believe there may be strife within your family if you are not around to make medical decisions, having a living will can save a lot of heartache.