Montana End-of-Life Registry - Living Will

The Montana Legislature has authorized the Attorney General’s Office to establish and maintain an End-of-Life Registry Web site for Montana citizens. The goal was to provide a place for citizens to securely store their advance directives online and to give authorized health care providers immediate access to them. This MontGuide answers commonly asked questions about the Montana End-of-Life Registry.

An advance directive is a document that expresses how you would want to be treated if you were seriously ill and unable to make decisions for yourself. It provides instructions about what you would want done or not done about life-sustaining treatment and other health care issues. You may order that your life be prolonged as long as possible. Or, you may order that your attending physician withhold or withdraw treatment that would only prolong the process of dying. Examples of advance directives include health care directives, living wills (called declarations in Montana), health care (medical) powers of attorney, and provider orders for life sustaining treatment (POLST).

What is a Living Will?

A living will is, technically, not a will at all since it takes affect during your lifetime. A living will is a document that states your preferences for treatment in cases of severe illness or injury when the procedures in question are only going to delay the process of dying. A living will provides direction to medical providers and health care facilities and can be used by a person named as a power of attorney for health care as an indication of support to, in layman's terms, "pull the plug."

Living wills allow you to make the decision of whether life-prolonging medical or surgical procedures are to be continued, or withheld or withdrawn. They also contain your preferences with regard to when artificial feeding and fluids are to be used and whether pain-killing drugs, such as morphine, should be administered.

A living will allows you to express your wishes prior to being incapacitated. Your physicians or health care providers are directed by the living will to follow your instructions. Note that a living will can only be used to indicated refusal of medical procedures and/or feeding/fluids/drugs. A health care proxy, or durable power of attorney for health care, is used to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

Filing an advance directive

First, complete an advance directive that meets the requirements of Montana law, found in Section 50-9-103 of the Montana Code Annotated. A form that meets these requirements is available from the End-of-Life Registry at MSU Extension also has a declaration (living will) form that is included in the MontGuide, Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (MT199202HR). This publication is available through your local County Extension Agent or online at and clicking on Family and Community Topics/Family and Financial Management. A POLST form is available from your physician or other healthcare provider or you can download a copy online at www.

Second, complete the Montana End-of-Life Consumer Registration Agreement. A copy of the agreement is on page 2 of this MontGuide. The form is also available from the End-of- Life Registry at

Once you have completed your advance directive and consumer registration agreement, make a copy of each so you will have a record of your submission. Then send the original forms to:

Montana End-of-Life Registry
Montana Department of Justice
Office of Consumer Protection, MONTANA
2225 11th Avenue, PO Box 201410, Helena, MT 59620-1410
Phone: (406) 444-0660 or (866) 675-3314
Fax: (406) 444-9680
MT End-of-Life Registry: Hotline - 1-886-675-3314, website:

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