A will is often a prominent feature in an estate plan. Lesser known, but still very important in estate planning, is a living will. A living will and a will are two very different legal tools. Their similarities seemingly end at their names and the fact that both should be included in a strong, comprehensive estate plan. A will dictates how a person’s property should be distributed upon his or her death. Furthermore, a will can also name a guardian for any minor children who survive the deceased as well as naming a personal representative for the estate. A living will, on the other hand, serves a much different purpose. We will go into more detail regarding living wills and what you should include in yours.
What Should You Include in Your Living Will?
A living will details the medical care a person wants and does not want to receive in the event they are in critical condition and are incapacitated and unable to communicate these preferences for themselves. A living will can be extremely detailed depending on how clear you want to be about your end-of-life care preferences. It can even be a good idea to go over the types of medical care you may want to address in your living will with your doctor who can detail what is involved in certain types of life-prolonging medical treatments.
Your living will can state whether you want to be kept on artificial life support. In fact, your living will can detail whether you want any medical procedure or intervention that will only serve as prolonging death, or even an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state. A living will does not, however, address treatment aimed at alleviating pain or providing comfort care.
Many people are likely to have some strong opinions on the subject of what life-sustaining treatment they would and would not like to receive should they be unconscious or otherwise incapacitated and at the end-of-life stage. A living will empowers an individual to clearly state treatment preferences in a legal document. While thinking of such matters may not be very pleasant, you will likely find a significant amount of peace of mind that can come with putting a living will in place.
In addition to having a living will in place, you should consider putting a health care surrogate in place as well. While a living will can address some critical areas of health care, it does not address many in the grand scheme of things. With a health care surrogate in place, you can name a trusted individual that will make medical decisions on your behalf should you be unconscious or otherwise incapacitated and unable to express your decisions for yourself.
Estate Planning Attorneys
Get the peace of mind that can come with putting legal tools in place to protect your health care treatment wishes. The trusted estate planning attorneys at OC Wills & Trusts are here to help you put legal tools in place to protect your future and that of your loved ones. Contact us today.