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What is a “living will” and why do you need one?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2023 | Estate Planning |

A comprehensive estate plan is typically composed of a number of different documents. A will, power of attorney documents, trusts—these, among others, may be a part of any given estate plan. These types of estate planning documents come into effect due to varying circumstances. One particular estate planning document—a “living will”—may come into effect if you are hospitalized, perhaps facing near-death circumstances. Your instructions in this document will be crucial in that situation.

So, what exactly is a “living will” and why do you need one? Well, this document is intended to provide the details of your thoughts on life-saving or life-prolonging medical care, if you end up in such a situation and are unable to express your preferences or are incapacitated in some way. For example, would you want to be resuscitated if your vitals flatline? Would you want to be put on a breathing machine or have food provided intravenously? What if you are declared “brain dead” by the medical experts but are still connected to life-saving medical equipment? These questions, among others, can be addressed in a living will.

You’ll want to have a living will as part of a comprehensive estate plan because without such instructions, there may be quite a bit of confusion. Doctors and nurses may provide medical care with which you disagree—but you might not be able to say so. “Consent” is an important part of medical care in America today. So, there may be medical options that could help in some way, but without knowing your thoughts, medical professionals might not be able to proceed.

Understand your situation

Your estate plan will be unique to you and your family and financial situation. Only you will be able to provide the answers that will allow for a comprehensive estate plan to be crafted for you.