Living wills provide medical instructions upon incapacitation.
A living will is an instruction to the medical profession about your wishes in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to give instructions on your own. For instance, you can give instructions to the effect that you do not wish to be resuscitated if you are suffering from a particular medical condition.
Modern medicine offers treatments for many conditions which were previously almost always fatal. Many of these treatments are invasive, painful and reduce the quality of a person's life in order to extend it. Often, these treatments are offered and undertaken even where there is little chance of success.
Increasingly, there is recognition in society that people should be allowed to choose how to die, and to die with dignity. In such cases, a living will can be important. If you feel that you would rather choose about how and where you die, then a living will may be for you. This decision may be taken from you, in the event that you are incapacitated or are left physically or mentally unable to communicate your wishes.
A living will, sometimes known as an 'advance directive' allows you to put your wishes in legally binding form and state which treatments, if any, you would want carried out in the event the worst was to happen.
A living will is simply an advance refusal of certain medical treatments.
Having a living will in place means that your loved ones know your wishes, sparing them a very difficult decision at a hard time.