A living will is a legal document that outlines end-of-life medical care instructions.
It’s commonly referred to as an advance directive or directive to physicians, and it’s a critical component of estate planning for anyone with young children, elderly parents, special needs trust beneficiaries, or anyone else who may one day need to appoint someone to handle their financial affairs, healthcare or other personal needs in the event they are no longer able to do so themselves.
It can vary in length and complexity, but in general, they all serve the same purpose: They let you express your end-of-life care preferences so that your loved ones aren’t left with difficult decisions if something tragic happens to you.
What’s In A Living Will?
A living will (also called an advance directive or directive to physicians) is a legal document that outlines your end-of-life medical care preferences.
It can vary in length and complexity, but in general, they all have the same purpose: They let you express your end-of-life care preferences so that your loved ones aren’t left with difficult decisions if something tragic happens to you.
A Living Will can include any or all of the following:
- Whether or not you want to be resuscitated if you stop breathing.
- Whether or not you want to be on life support if you are in a coma or are unable to breathe on your own.
- Whether or not you want to be hooked up to a machine that is breathing for you when you are unable to breathe on your own.
- Whether or not you want to be put on kidney dialysis or have a breathing tube if you are unable to eat or drink on your own.
- Where you would like to be treated if you need medical care.
- What you want to be done with your remains when you pass away.
Advance Care Planning
When you’re healthy, it can be difficult to think about death and all of the potential complications that may arise. But in order to have your wishes respected in the future, you need to create advanced care plans now.
This can entail completing a living will and designating a healthcare proxy to make your medical decisions. Not all states require you to have it in order to appoint a healthcare surrogate, but most recommend it as a best practice.
Having a living will or advance care plan in place can reduce the stress of making end-of-life decisions for loved ones. It can also help ensure that your wishes are followed precisely as you wished. Although it can be a challenging undertaking, there are online resources that can help walk you through the process step-by-step.
Why Is A Living Will Important?
A living will is essential because it provides a framework for your family and doctors to make critical decisions about your health care if you ever become incapacitated. When you don’t have an advance directive in place, your family will be faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to respect your wishes for end-of-life care.
In case you have a living will and your family knows about it, they will be able to make educated decisions about your care that are consistent with your wishes. If you don’t have it, the state you live in will make the decision for you.
This may not reflect your desires at all. If you don’t have a living will, your family could be forced to make difficult decisions about your care and could suffer from the stress of making choices on your behalf.
Types Of Living Wills
There are two types of living wills: an “instructional” living will and a “durable” living will. Instructional living wills also called “advance directive” or “preference” living wills, are not legally binding.
They are a written record of your end-of-life care wishes, but they do not appoint a health care proxy that can legally make decisions on your behalf. Durable living wills, on the other hand, are legally binding. They are written while you are healthy and able to make sound decisions.
A durable living will is a written document that serves as a legal document appointing a person to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so.
How to Write Your Own Living Will
If you want to create your own living will, it is essential that you speak with an attorney first. You may believe that you understand the process, but missteps could leave you legally unprotected. Your loved ones may not be able to act on your wishes if your living will is not properly written.
When drafting your own living will, it is important to note that you should review it regularly and make any necessary changes as you age, have children, get remarried, etc. It is recommended that you update your living will every five years or whenever there is a major life change, like having a baby.
This ensures that your living will stays up-to-date and reflects your current wishes.
Should You Create a Revocable Trust?
Creating a revocable trust can be a great way to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes when you pass away. It can also help to avoid probate. But is a living trust necessary in addition to a living will?
It really depends on your unique situation. You may want to create a trust if you want to avoid probate, want to transfer your assets to your child sooner, want to protect your assets from creditors, or have minor children who will receive an inheritance.
A living trust may be helpful if you have a rare health condition that is not covered by your insurance and you want to make sure your heirs don’t incur excessive medical debt.
A living will is an essential component of estate planning, particularly if you have young children, elderly parents, special needs trust beneficiaries or anyone else who may one day need to manage your financial affairs, healthcare, or other personal needs in the event that you are no longer able to do so yourself.
A living will is a written document that outlines your end-of-life medical care preferences. It is a critical component of proper estate planning. A Living Will can vary in length and complexity, but in general, it is a written record of your end-of-life medical care wishes.