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

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2024 | Estate Planning |

The phrase “living will” might make one think of a will, which dictates an individual’s wishes for estate distribution after they die. However, while a living will is an estate planning tool, it has to do with important healthcare decisions.

It is an essential component of estate planning and can benefit other legal documents you may have in place such as a will and a trust.

A living will is an advanced healthcare directive

The living will, also known as an advanced healthcare directive, dictates what treatments and interventions you want and do not want to be done if you are no longer capable of making your own healthcare decisions.

Situations where these healthcare directives could be useful include:

  • Incapacity due to terminal illness
  • Medically induced coma
  • If you are under the effects of anesthesia
  • Sudden accidents and emergencies
  • Advanced planning for end-of-life treatment

Having a living will ready can guide your loved ones in making the best healthcare decisions according to your desires.

It could also prevent infighting and conflict among your family, as they may not have to debate over treatments. Additionally, deciding on interventions beforehand can help medical professionals treat you more quickly.

Designate your healthcare agent

Furthermore, a living will allows an individual to name a consenting and competent adult as their healthcare agent through a power of attorney.

The healthcare agent could then make decisions for an incapacitated individual. They cannot override the wishes already dictated in a living will, but they can make other treatment choices outside of the document.

A living will could help you become more proactive when it comes to healthcare decision-making and estate planning, especially if you want to prepare for emergencies and end-of-life.