What Is a Living Will?

Many people are familiar with what a will is and think of it as only a document that disperses a person’s estate after he or she dies. However, there is a difference between a traditional will and a living will. While a traditional will does provide instructions for what to do with a person’s possessions after they are gone, a living will is just as important as a traditional one. A living will provides detailed instructions for a person’s final wishes while he or she is still living and provides direction related to medical and end-of-life decisions. This type of will often appoints a certain person to make medical decisions for the individual if that individual is unable to do so for himself or herself.

Emergency Medical Decisions

In case a person is involved in some type of accident that leaves them incapacitated to make his or her own medical decisions, the person outlined in the living will would take charge. This could include following out the victim’s wishes in regards to a do not resuscitate order or in regards to life support. When making a living will, it is wise for the person who is listed as the power of attorney to be familiar with the person’s wishes in an emergency situation as these situations arise without warning and often requires immediate decisions to be made.

End of Life Decisions

Making end-of-life decisions are difficult for the family, especially when family members are unsure about the dying person’s wishes. When there is a specified individual to take control in this situation, it is easier for the dying person’s wishes to be carried out. Although this is a difficult role to take on, it is a way to show respect to the individual in his or her last days. It is important for the individual to have specific instructions about how he or she wishes the end-of-life care to be carried out.

A living will is an important legal document for anyone to have but especially for those who are nearing the end of life. While a person is still sound of mind and body, he or she should outline the directions for emergency and end-of-life care. If you are unfamiliar with a living will and how to go about securing one, speak to an estate planning lawyer today to make sure these important decisions are carried out as you wish them to be.


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