To determine whether a living will would be beneficial for you and your loved ones, it’s first important to discuss what a living will is.
What is a living will?
As a standard will can help your loved ones carry out your wishes, a living will helps specify what your wishes are if an illness or incapacity leaves you unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Living wills are a type of advance healthcare directive and specify which actions your doctor or medical care professional can or can’t take when you’re not able to communicate what you want.
As with standard wills and other elements of estate planning, a living will can help ease the burden your loved ones feel in difficult situations. This document allows you to communicate the type of treatment you are okay with and the type of treatments you would rather avoid. Instead of having to decide what is right for you, your loved ones can turn to your living will to reference what types of treatments you have previously consented to.
Additional Healthcare Directive Options
Like a living will, there are also other healthcare directives you can have created as part of your estate plan, like appointing a healthcare proxy or a specific type of power of attorney to make such decisions for you. It’s not uncommon to use a combination of approaches when creating a comprehensive estate plan.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Having a Living Will
You might consider the benefits and disadvantages of a living will as you decide if it is the right option for you. A living will can provide your loved ones with care while working to prevent conflict or disagreements among family members about your care. They can also help limit the emotional burden of those loved ones who are responsible for making difficult decisions.
But you should consider the disadvantages as well. While a living will can help you preemptively decide on the type of care you want, it is difficult to plan for every circumstance. There are limitations to what most living wills cover, so even if you have one in place, there is a chance your loved ones will still need to make difficult decisions. In addition to the limitation in the scope of a living will, by nature, estate plan documents are usually kept at home, in a safe or filing system which can be an inconvenience when time is of the essence, and you need care quickly.
Because there are several approaches when it comes to healthcare directives, estate planning and living wills, it will be your decision whether you need a living will or would prefer to go with a different option. Living wills are not required, but they are one alternative you have when making decisions about your care when you may no longer have a conscious choice. Please contact the office if you’d like to discuss your options regarding living wills, healthcare directives or estate planning more in-depth.
Please contact the office if you’d like to discuss your options regarding living wills, healthcare directives or estate planning more in-depth.
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This piece is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.