A living will gives you the power to determine what happens to you should a medical tragedy strike. Although advances in medicine have made health care much more effective, it is still possible for certain conditions to deprive you of the power to make your wishes known.
In such circumstances, a living well helps inform your health care providers of what kind of medical care you want or do not want. It also helps you protect your family from the terrible decision of whether to continue artificial feeding and respiration during a coma.
Regardless of whether you are currently young, old, and healthy or terminally ill, it is well worth considering a chat with an estate planning lawyer about a living will. Here is why.
What is a living will?
Unlike its name, a living will is not at all as if other wills that people use to leave the property for their loved ones at their death. In fact, unlike most other wills, a living will operates only during the life of an individual. It does not have any power after death.
A living will is considered part of documents that form health care directives that people make to state their wishes for end-of-life medical care. This includes their preferences related to measures to prolong life such as artificial respiration, hydration, and feeding or care during vegetative state.
Many states regulate the form and content of living wills by specific laws. In some states, a living will is required to form a part of a larger set of documents called advance directives. These will include a durable power of attorney that specifies who you wish to make decisions about your medical care if you are unable to.
Why is it important for you to have a living will?
Due to advances in medicine, it is much easier now to provide life-giving care than before. However, managed medical care and technology have complicated things today. Patients can live for much longer in a vegetative state with little to no hope of recovery.
This can often become a drain on resources and lead to significant strain on your loved ones. In fact, without written instructions expressing your wishes, family members and doctors can only guess what you would have wanted. This may lead to painful disputes and may even end up in a courtroom.
While many believe that only the severely sick and terminally ill need to worry about these issues, they are just as much a concern for healthy individuals.
Years ago, there was a legal battle involving a woman called Terri Schiavo. She was 26 years old and healthy when she suffered a heart attack that caused severe damage, leaving her in a vegetative state.
Since she had no living will, her husband and family battled over what she would have wanted in the circumstances. This led to a court case that was only resolved about 15 years later when the court determined she would not have wanted to continue the life-prolonging intervention.
All of the pain and heartache could have been avoided if there was a document relating her wishes regarding end-of-life care.
Contact a competent estate planning attorney for guidance
If you or a loved one wishes to plan for your medical affairs in a living will, contact the estate planning attorneys at Blitzer Law Firm. Our legal team has more than 30 years’ experience advising clients on their estate plans and assisting to draft these documents. Contact us on 618-344-7722 to discuss with our lawyers so we can assist to document your wishes.