Living Wills: Preparing For End of Life

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Forget about the health-reform debate for the moment. Should you have a living will specifying the kind of care you'd want at the end of life if you couldn't speak for yourself?

Doctors, lawmakers and ethicists have been urging Americans to fill out advance directives, as they are called, for decades. Yet less than a third of American adults, and less than half of nursing-home patients, have done so. Many people don't understand the options or the consequences, or they are baffled by the legalities, according to a report prepared for Congress last year by Rand Corp., and doctors and patients alike are reluctant to broach the subject of death.

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