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What is a living will?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Your estate plan can protect your family after you are gone by distributing your assets in the manner you see fit. Living wills are components of estate plans that protect you while you are still alive.

Because they play such an important role, you must create a comprehensive living will that contains lots of details. Here are a few ways to do just that.

What to include in your living will

You can use the living will to explain your health care preferences in the event of a serious illness or injury. Some people state a preference for palliative care only, which is health care that reduces pain and discomfort but does not prolong life. You can also specify which life-preserving treatments you do or do not want, such as tube feeding, CPR, mechanical ventilation, and medication administration.

What to do after creating the document

Retain the original document and keep it in a secure, but easy to access area of your home. Make copies for your primary care physician and health care agent or representative, who is a person with the authority to make medical decisions based on the information included in your living will.

Talk with your family about your wishes for end-of-life care to ensure they know what to expect. You can also carry a card or document that explains the terms of your living will and provides contact information for your representative.

When to change your living will

If your spouse is your health care representative, you must review the decision in the event of divorce. You should also update documents in the event of a new diagnosis, especially if the condition is terminal or life-threatening.

Even if no major changes have occurred, you should still review your living will once every ten years. Your attitudes toward medical care might have changed during that time, and if they have, you must ensure your living will accurately reflect them.