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Living wills, which are better known in medical and legal circles as advance directives, state your preferences about the medical care you want to receive in the event you cannot communicate your wishes.

In most states, advance directives are instructions about when to stop providing life-sustaining medical treatment.

Here in Texas, the written directive forms ask you to choose between continuing or ending such treatment. But the state law does not force physicians to abide by those instructions.

"It is just a piece of paper that has to be interpreted and is subject to family disputes and conflicts," said Dr. William J. Winslade, a professor and medical bioethicist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.



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