When someone begins to think about estate planning they will commonly think of setting up a trust, writing a will and testament, and making sure their money and assets are protected. They will further ensure all of their assets will go to those they want them to.
One of the things some families overlook is making sure they each have directives in place if they are living, but no longer able to make medical decisions. Here are tips on how to write a living will.
Is A Living Will The Same As A Durable Medical POA?
No, these two legal documents are different in the areas of protection they provide. A living will primarily give directives for what the individual wants should they be on their death bed.
If they are on life support or require blood transfusions and other similar concerns this document would detail the individuals wants in these situations. The livingwill serves to demonstrate the individuals wishes if they are incapacitated and these medical decisions need to be made.
The living will is specifically for decisions related to someone on their deathbed. A medical power of attorney gives a designated person a much broader range of medical areas they have legal permission to make on behalf of the one unable to make decisions on their own.
A medical power of attorney stays in effect unless the individual changes it or voids it. The living will, on the other hand, is only in effect if the person is mentally incapacitated or in a coma.
Understand The Purpose Of The Will
This is a legal directive in the case a person becomes terminally ill, comatose, in a horrible car accident, or incapacitated in some way but still alive. In that case, they are unable to tell the doctor or family how they wish certain decisions to be made. This is the purpose of a living will.
Understand The Risk Of Not Having A Living Will
If someone does not wish to remain being hooked up to life support for months or years but they fail to have a written living will then others would make that choice for them. Even if the person trusts their family, it is often easier to pull the plug if the family knows with certainty it is the wish of a loved one.
Knowing The Difference Between A Last Will and Testament And A Living Will
The first designates who gets money and other assets associated with an individual’s estate. The latter directs doctors and family on what to do should that person be unable to make choices when they are on their death bed.
How To Write A Living Will
This should be done by first contacting the family doctor. The person should ask their doctor what each decision would mean in a real situation. The person should make sure their doctor has no conflicts that would make the doctor unwilling to follow the instructions of the living will.
Next, it is important that the individual talks with their family so that everyone understands what is contained in the will and that they are willing to follow its directives. It is then necessary that the document is taken to a qualified attorney to make sure it is written in a way that will hold up under the scrutiny of law.
A living will is a very important piece of estate planning. It is one not to be taken lightly or put off. By the very nature of its purpose, it is necessary to do it as early as possible or risk not having it when it is needed.