Is it Time to Draft a Living Will? 3 Things You Need to Consider About Your Estate

Estate planning can be a sensitive topic that can be challenging to deal with. Adults of all ages should consider creating an estate plan that includes both a will and a designated Power of Attorney, but what about a living will? This article discusses the value of creating a complete living will regardless of your current age.

A living will, sometimes referred to as an advance medical directive or an advance healthcare directive, is designed to ensure that your loved ones and medical providers know exactly how to offer assistance and care should you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. While thinking about end-of-life care or even hospice care is not always easy, it's important to remember that your friends, relatives, and doctors cannot know your wishes unless you tell them. When you meet with your estate planning attorney to create a will or choose a power of attorney, you may also want to consider drafting a living will. Here's why.

1. Your loved ones might not know what your wishes are.

Family relationships can be tricky. This is no secret. You might find it awkward or uncomfortable to bring up your medical decisions with loved ones. Even close family members sometimes find it difficult to have these discussions. Creating a living will ensures that your family members know what your feelings are about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tube feeding, comfort care, and organ donation. When you have a directive in place, your family members will not have to make tough decisions for you when they are feeling emotionally stressed or anxious. They'll know exactly what you want.

2. Your wishes and preferences might change.

One of the most important things to remember is that the way you feel about certain kinds of treatment plans will change as you grow older. Depending on your lifestyle, physical health, and relationships, you may change your mind about whether you want dialysis or whether you're comfortable with mechanical ventilation. Even if you talk with family members, they may forget what your preferences are. It's important to update these preferences not only verbally, but legally with your attorney to ensure that everyone understands what kind of care you want.

3. Your doctor is on your side.

It's important to talk with your doctor about your living will. Your physician understands your medical history and has a thorough knowledge of your current health condition. Once your living will is finished, you can provide your doctor will a copy of the directive that they can place in your file. This ensures that hospital and clinic staff members know what your preferences are for care.

When you're ready to start planning your estate, reach out to your attorney promptly. Your lawyer can help you consider a variety of different situations and the types of care you would prefer should you find yourself unable to communicate with the people around you. Your estate planning attorney will guide you through a series of questions designed to ensure that you're able to fully express your wishes for care and that you can communicate those wishes through your living will.