Who would you like to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them for yourself? How long would you prefer to remain on life support? How would you like any pain to be managed? At what point should healthcare professionals cease providing you with medical treatment?
You may not have thought about these questions yet, but having these conversations with your loved ones before a medical crisis occurs will prevent unnecessary stress and conflict during an already challenging time. It is also critical to discuss them with your estate planning attorney. Your attorney can walk you through the importance of adding a living will to your estate plan and assist you in making these choices for yourself and your family.
Establishing a living will is one effective planning option that can help organize your end-of-life care wishes. We want to share with you some of the commonly asked questions we receive from our clients about living wills.
1. What is a living will?
A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that outlines your end-of-life medical care wishes. The document helps loved ones and healthcare professionals to make appropriate medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself. In most instances, the provisions within a living will do not take effect until you are found to be unable to competently make medical decisions for yourself and are in an end-of-life condition.
2. How much control do I have over the provisions within a living will?
A living will provides you, as the creator of the document, with a large amount of flexibility and control. Perhaps one of the main benefits of creating a living will is that you can add, remove, or update any instructions with the guidance of your estate planning attorney. In other words, until you are physically and mentally unable to speak on your behalf, you retain complete control over the contents of your living will.
3. Are there benefits to creating a living will earlier rather than later?
As with any estate planning, it is important to be proactive. It is easier to have a strong plan in place than rush to create a plan in the middle of a medical emergency when you may not be able to. Of course, as the years go on, circumstances change. Creating a living will while you are young and updating the provisions accordingly will allow you and your loved ones to rest assured your wishes are outlined in the event of a serious accident or diagnosis, persistent vegetative state or a terminal illness.
Remember these are just a few of the commonly asked questions we receive from our clients about living wills. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to contact our firm and schedule a meeting. We are here to support you and provide guidance through the entire estate planning process.