Living wills: why you need one

Mar 23, 2022.

As a healthy person, it is hard to imagine suddenly suffering from impaired judgement or being left unable to act. However, this tragic situation can indeed come to pass. As a result, it is important that you tackle the subject of living wills and lasting powers of attorney, giving you the certainty that any actions taken are in your best interest. Plus, they take a major weight off your family’s shoulders. 

What happens if you do not make preparations

Just imagine: something happens to you that leaves you suffering from impaired judgement or in a position where you are unable to make decisions. In this instance, if you do not have a living will or a lasting power of attorney, the state will automatically intervene to help make far-reaching decisions for you. For example, if your spouse or partner has to extend the mortgage on your house, for which both your signatures are required. Or a place in a care facility has to be found for you if you are suffering from impaired judgement. In Switzerland, this duty of representation falls to the children and adult protection authority (KESB).


If you are married or in a registered relationship, your spouse or partner can make decisions in your name to a limited extent if you are unable to make them yourself. For example, your spouse or partner can:

  • perform legal acts such as making payments for family maintenance and support.
  • open and reply to your post and e-mails.
  • manage your income and joint assets.
  • help make decisions concerning medical intervention and treatment.


Good to know: most people think the children and adult protection authority (KESB) only gets involved when new living arrangements have to be found for children. In fact, representing adults comprises 80% of the KESB’s work.


A living will ensures your wishes are respected

In a living will, you set out your wishes concerning medical intervention and treatment. For example, you can decide whether or not you consent to resuscitation or artificial respiration or feeding if the medical circumstances should call for it. Without a living will, doctors will decide together with your relatives what action to take. For this reason it is recommended that you draw up a living will as early as possible. Your doctors can answer any medical questions you may have. Deposit your living will with your closest relatives and your general practitioner for safe-keeping.


Generali tip: Sample forms for setting up a living will can be downloaded from the Swiss Medical Association (FMH), the Swiss Red Cross (SRK) and Caritas. You can make hand-written changes and additions to these forms. Sign and date the forms in the spots indicated.

Find out more

Read part 2, “Lasting powers of attorney: what you need to know”, to find out how you can ensure your wishes are heeded, even if you are suffering from impaired judgement.