By Attorney Cristol Wagner

Attorney Cristol Wagner

What is the difference between a Living Will and a MOLST form? This is one of the most common questions clients ask us when discussing Living Wills and their function as part of a comprehensive estate plan. While these documents may be similar, we are going to highlight their different purposes. 

A Living Will is an important component of incapacity planning and functions in conjunction with a Health Care Power of Attorney. In a Health Care Power of Attorney, you name the individuals that you would want to make medical decisions for you if you are ever unable to do so yourself. They are your agents and they must act in line with the decisions you outline in your Living Will. 

A Living Will contains written instructions regarding your preferences for medical care in case you are ever unable to make health care decisions for yourself. These health care decisions include whether or not you would like to be kept alive using methods such as artificial hydration and nutrition, whether you would like to receive medication for pain, whether you would like to be an organ donor, and more. These decisions usually become important when a doctor determines that you have an end-stage or terminal condition. 

If you are ever in such a situation, the agents you have named in your Health Care Power of Attorney will use your Living Will to guide their decision-making during that difficult time. This gives your agents peace of mind, knowing they are acting in line with your wishes. On a personal level, putting a loved one in charge of your medical care when they are uncertain of your wishes will only add additional stress and worry during an already upsetting time. Another possible negative consequence of failing to prepare a Living Will could be your relative making a decision that you would not have made yourself. In addition to this, you may be inviting serious disagreements among your family members.

Please note that a Living Will is a legal document that our firm can prepare for you, reflecting your preferences for medical care. The form requires your signature and the signature of two witnesses to go into effect. We recommend this document for anyone over the age of 18. 

MOLST form on the other hand, also known as “Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment,” must be completed by a medical provider. Similarly to a Living Will, this form increases the likelihood that your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment will be honored. The MOLST form instructs medical providers on different things than the Living Will. For example, a MOLST form can prevent emergency medical personnel from performing CPR or giving you a blood transfusion, but a Living Will cannot. The MOLST form is more specifically tailored to your medical situation and is directed toward medical providers. The Living Will, however, gives a general framework for decision-making and is directed toward your chosen decision-makers and your medical providers. 

At Sinclair Prosser Gasior, we can assist you by preparing your Living Will along with other important legal documents for incapacity and end-of-life planning. If you have any questions about creating a comprehensive estate plan or updating your existing plan, we invite you to attend one of our free estate planning workshops where we discuss Power of Attorney, Wills, Trusts, and more. Our attorneys will provide clarity on your estate planning options. A free consultation is offered to all attendees.
Contact us at (410) 573-4818 or visit to learn more.

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