Five Wishes Law and Legal Definition

Five Wishes is a document like an advanced directive that makes a person’s wishes known ahead of time. Five Wishes was introduced in 1997 and originally distributed with support from a grant by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest philanthropy in the U.S. devoted exclusively to health and health care. It is unique, because it addresses all of a person’s needs: medical, personal, emotional, and spiritual.

According to Aging with Dignity, the organization that created Five Wishes, the document lets your family and health care providers know:

Which person you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't make them.

The kind of medical treatment you want or don't want.

How comfortable you want to be.

How you want people to treat you.

What you want your loved ones to know.

Five Wishes is currently available in 40 states in the U.S. It does not meet the legal requirements in the remaining ten. Many doctors, hospitals, health care agencies, churches, and even employers have the document to distribute. Five Wishes has become America’s most popular living will because it is written in everyday language and helps start and structure important conversations about care in times of serious illness. Five wishes is now available in 26 languages.