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What is a living will and how do you create one?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2022 | Estate Planning |

A comprehensive estate plan can contain many components. You’ll have to address how your assets will be distributed upon your passing, for sure, but you’ll also need to think about what will happen to you in the event that you become unable to make important health care and financial decisions. This is where a living will can come into play, which is a legal document that specifies how you are to be cared for in the event that you become incapacitated.

The benefits of a living will

You know how you want your health care to play out if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. You can ensure that you receive this care if you use a living will. Additionally, by creating a living will, you can take the pressure off of your family members who otherwise may be tasked with making difficult decisions about your care.

Without a living will, your family may erupt in conflict over the best way to provide you with medical treatment. You certainly don’t want that to happen.

Why should you think about drafting a living will now?

You may think that the possibility of incapacitation and long-term illness is far off, but the truth of the matter is that an accident, injury or disease can strike quickly, leaving you without time to implement the plans that you want in place. Therefore, to give yourself and your family a sense of relief, now is the best time to think about creating a living will.

How do you go about creating a living will?

To create a living will, you’ll need to draft a legal document that conforms to state law. An attorney can help you with that. But before you even get to that point, you’ll want to take a few steps. These include:

  • Talking to your doctor about what your care options may be in the future and what care needs will be at your disposal.
  • Considering what kinds of treatment you’d want and which you’d want to avoid if you end up needing them.
  • Speaking to your family members about what you want out of your care if you become unable to make those decisions on your own so that that they are aware of your intentions and can avoid fighting over them.
  • Identifying someone who can make health-related decisions if you become incapacitated.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you can draft your living will. Once you’ve completed that document, you should make sure that your medical providers and your family have a copy so that they know where to find it in the event that it’s needed.

Treatment issues to consider

It’s hard to think about every possible treatment option when you’re creating your living will. However, there are some major medical issues that you’ll want to address in your living will, including:

  • The use of a ventilator for breathing assistance and how long you’d want to be placed on a ventilator before being removed.
  • Whether you’d want a feeding tube and how long you would like to be sustained that way before it’s removed.
  • How long you’d want to receive other potentially life-saving treatments, like dialysis and CPR.
  • Whether you’d like to donate organs upon your passing.

There are other issues that you can address in your living will, which is why it may be best for you to discuss these matters with your attorney.

Do you need guidance in creating your estate plan?

With so many options at your disposal, it can be difficult to comprehend the extent of your estate plan. Unfortunately, this is enough to deter some people from creating an estate plan. Don’t let that happen to you. Instead, you may want to reach out to a legal team that is able to help you navigate what you want from your estate plan and bring it into reality. That way, you and your estate are adequately protected.