Do you need a living will?

Do you need a living will?

| Nov 2, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Protecting your wishes can be as easy as creating a living will. A living will is a document that helps you state what your wishes are if you become seriously ill or impaired. Most people know what their wishes are if they’re hurt and able to speak for themselves, but what if you can’t?

A living will is also called a health care directive or advance directive. This is a legal tool that can help you protect yourself and encourage others to give you (or not give you) specific medical treatments. While the first living wills were designed to prevent long-term, unnatural life through artificial life support, the living wills today are much more thorough.

In your living will, you should address several topics. You can talk about:

  • Organ donation
  • Resuscitation
  • Tube feeding
  • Medication preferences, such as allergies or drugs you’d like to avoid
  • Withholding treatment

If your loved ones are there, then why is a living will important?

Your loved ones may try to do what is in your best interests if you’re unable to speak for yourself, but what they do may not be what you want to do. Having a living will makes the decisions for them, so they don’t have to carry guilt about doing something wrong. It will also prevent them from seeking treatments for you that you don’t want or pulling treatments too soon.

Is a durable power of attorney the same as a living will?

No, they aren’t the same. However, they do overlap a bit. The durable power of attorney can give the attorney-in-fact the power to make health care decisions for you. With this, you may opt to allow the person you choose to make decisions based on their personal judgment. Essentially, there could be less control than with a living will’s more specific terms.

Your attorney will be happy to go over the differences between a living will and durable power of attorney, so that you can make the right decision for yourself. They’re different, so it’s worth taking time to decide what you’d like to see happen in an emergency.

William G. Peterson
FindLaw