A living will is one of the most important legal documents you can have. It’s also often called an advance directive or an end-of-life plan. A living will outlines what medical treatments and procedures you would want in certain life-threatening situations.
It provides peace of mind knowing that people close to you will know how to honor your wishes about being on a DNR order or getting any other type of medical intervention.
It’s important for you and your loved ones to consider what types of medical treatments you’d prefer to receive when you are unable to make medical decisions on your own behalf.
We encourage all our clients to have this conversation with loved ones, to ensure everyone can have their health care wishes honored.
A living will is a legal document that specifies what medical care you want or don’t want if you become incapacitated and cannot make your own decisions. It also might provide instructions for end-of-life care, such as resuscitation and feeding tubes.
Inside a living will, you express your preferences for end-of-life health care once you become unable to do so.
Because of the importance of this document, many people include it as part of an estate plan. If your state does not require a living will, having one still greatly benefits you and your family by making sure your wishes are known and honored.
Nonetheless, to ensure that you have a legitimate health care power on your living will, which appropriately communicates your intentions for end-of-life decisions, you must prepare your living will once you are still with a sound mind. Continue reading to learn some legal advice in this article.
A living will can be written by anyone of legal age who is mentally competent and of sound mind. If you’re married, you should consider including your spouse in this process — particularly if one spouse has a serious medical condition and needs to make decisions on behalf of the other.
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You should write a living will because it can be helpful to your healthcare practitioner and your family. It helps guide them through making medical decisions if you cannot speak or think for yourself.
Without a living will, it places the responsibility of making the final choice of your medical care onto your family members.
You may believe that having a living will is unnecessary if you are healthy and in excellent shape. Besides, the mean lifespan for the start of geriatric dementia is around 80 years old, according to a study.
As a result, you may believe that you have lots of time until you must be concerned about being mentally impaired and making health care choices. Nevertheless, living wills are used for more than only preparing for mental disability associated with aging.
Planning for incapacitation isn’t exactly a fun topic of thought, but sadly, tragedy, sickness, infirmity, or senile dementia are all possible issues we may face one day. Having more control over your health care decisions is increasingly important.
Whether any of these events occur, rendering you permanently incapacitated or in palliative care, a “living will” can convey to your physicians and family your wishes for any accessible life-sustaining health care, for example but not limited to:
In a living will, you can include any health care preferences you desire. This legal document identifies your healthcare wishes and end of life care you want, or want to avoid.
If you have strong sentiments about certain treatments, or you wish to remain at your residence, you may express these preferences in your living will so your family does not have to assume.
Any state’s paperwork will ask for information on several forms of care, such as:
Often a living will can be confused with an advance medical directive or advance directive, but they are not always the thing. A living will is a form of advance directive.
Living wills, as well as other advance directives, contain explicit written instructions about your health care wishes if you seem unable to manage them for yourself. When you are severely disabled, gravely injured, in a vegetative state, in the late phases of illness, or approaching the end of life, a living will establishes “health care power” or “health care proxy” in making decisions that will guide your physician.
Advance directives are not exclusive to the elderly. Consideration of unpredictable end-of-life events can be beneficial for all.
You can choose the medical treatment you desire, minimize and manage pain and suffering, and ease health care providers of tough decisions during times of emergency by preparing ahead of time. It also prevents uncertainty or dispute about the health care decisions you’d like others to execute on your account.
You have the option to alter your directions at any moment. To make modifications, you must generate a new document, redistribute new editions, and delete all previous ones with the help of your estate planning attorney or trusted law firm. State-specific criteria for modifying directives may exist.
Changes should be discussed with your health care agent and physician, and a new directive must supersede an old document within your medical record. Medical records at a care home or hospital should also be updated with these new orders. Also, inform the health care provider, immediate family, and relatives about the adjustments you’ve made.
New detection of illness. A serious medical diagnosis or one that drastically affects your existence may prompt you to revise your established living will. Seek medical advice on the types of patient care options that may be considered along the disease’s predicted path.
Significant years elapsed since the last establishment of the advance directive (10 years or so). Your feelings towards end-of-life health care may change. Revise your directives regularly to ensure that they match your personal views and objectives.
Alteration in civil status. You may want to choose a new health care agent if you marry, remarry, divorce, get separated, or have been widowed.
A health-related care power of attorney is a variety of advance directives that chooses someone make decisions for you if you cannot. Such a document is also known as a “durable power of attorney for health care” (health care proxy) in certain states.
Depending on where you live, whom you select to have the power of attorney can be referred to as:
The person you choose for this important role, should satisfy the following criteria:
1. He or she must meet the standards for a health care agent or have a power of attorney in your state.
2. He or she must not be your physician or a member of your health care agency.
3. He or she is capable and willing to talk with you about medical treatment and important medical decisions.
4. He or she must be relied on to make judgments that are consistent with your objectives and ideals.
5. He or she is trustworthy in the act of having the power of attorney and being your spokesman when there are issues concerning your medical health care.
To nominate someone as the health care legal representative, complete the form that includes the individual’s personal information as well as any restrictions you want them to have with your hospital care. The document will also include any unique wishes you might also have, like requesting a DNR (do-not-resuscitate) order and limiting operations that would prolong your life.
If somehow the person is in a long-term care facility or treatment center, several states additionally need witnesses to attend. A typical health care power of attorney document will ask for your identity, birthdate, location, and the specific details of the person you’re designating.
When your first choice is unable or refuses to assume the responsibility, you can also select two alternative representatives. Once the documentation is completed, the health care power of attorney becomes effective immediately. You have the freedom to select whomever you wish as your health care proxy, including the ability to change your mind at any moment.
Deciding on whether to hire a health care power of attorney is a private choice, just like any other important life-changing decision. Also, a health care power of attorney might not be appropriate for everyone.
As uncommon as it may seem for your family to choose anything other than what is mentioned in the living will. Some family members may attempt to challenge your chosen healthcare agent by changing your living will, and require physicians to administer life-sustaining therapies that sometimes you do not desire.
Your living will is indeed an approach to protect your preferences and keep your family from having to make hard choices for you through difficult times. Your family members may modify your preferences provided you specifically give them power of attorney to do so written in your living will.
Other than that, your family members have no power to modify what is established in our living will. You have all the authority and power over your living will. Hence, you should have the most reliable legal assistance.
A Living Will is an important part of the estate planning process. But, good planning usually requires more than having a living will or a last will and testament.
Choose Heritage Law, and we can assist you in navigating the creation of a living will. Working directly with our clients, we are able to determine what is the best plan of action.
We can guide you through giving legal advice in reviewing factors you may have ignored or circumstances that you might miss entirely. Contact us today for further assistance.