If you want peace of mind for you and your loved ones if you become incapacitated due to illness or injury then you should consider a legal document known as a living will.
This document explains what kind of medical care you want to receive when you cannot speak for yourself.
While it is possible for almost anyone to make a living will it may be of the most use to those who are facing incapacity or for those who have very strong opinions about what kind of care they receive – or don’t want to receive.
Just What Should You Put Into The Document?
Though it may sound like the same thing, a living will is not the document you use to leave property to loved ones, name an executor, or name a guardian for your children.
The document that names the above and passes on assets is a traditional will or last will and testament.
The living will – perhaps better described as a health care declaration – is a document in which you describe the kind of health care you want to receive if you are incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself.
The living will is often paired with a power of attorney for health care. With a living will you name an agent to make health care decisions on your behalf.
In some states the living will and power of attorney are sometimes combined into one document that is called an “advanced directive.”
What Should You Include In A Living Will?
Really, you can put any wishes you have for medical care in your living will.
For instance you can state that you wish certain types of care given, or instruct that certain types of care are not given.
You could for example, instruct that you should never be put on a ventilator if one was required to keep you alive.
Depending on your state’s form, it will request your input about various types of care, including –
- Life-prolonging medical care. Life-prolonging medical care includes –
- Blood transfusions
- CPR, diagnostic tests
- Administration of drugs
- Respirator use
- Food and water
- Palliative care. This type of care is given to reduce pain when a patient decides not to undertake life prolonging procedures.
Care choices are complicated. You must consider the effect on your loved ones as well as your preferences.
There may be no easy or obvious choice.
You can get a living will from a lawyer. However, you do not need an attorney to create a living will.
Every state has its own requirements for making a living will, so if you make one on your own, make sure you find a form that meets your state’s requirements.
Places you can find free living will forms are:
- Local senior centers
- Local hospitals
- Your regular physician
- Your state’s medical association
- The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
After you make your document, you will need to sign it and have it witnessed or notarized, or both. The requirements for making your living will legal depends on your particular state’s law.
You Have a Legal And Signed Living Will – What Now?
You will want to consider making copies and providing it to –
- Family members
- Your health care agent
- Doctor or doctors who treat you
- The hospital or care facility
Your living will or advanced directive expresses your health care desires. The directive is only effective if you notify those who treat you.
Do not be reluctant to discuss these issues with your loved ones and health care professionals.
Discussing your advanced directive or living will allows your loved ones and care professionals to know about your wishes so you get the type of care you want should the worst happen to you.
What Is An Advanced Directive Is a Living Will?
Yes it is essential the same thing as a living will it is a document that describe the kinds of medical care you want to have if something happens to you and you can't speak for yourself.
The things that go into an advanced directive are the same things as go into a living will including the power of attorney.
What if You Want To Change Something In An Advance Directive Or Living Will?
You can change or cancel your advance directive at any time.
All you need to do is fill out new forms and destroy your existing forms.
If you prefer you can just let your family, your doctor, and your health care agent know about the change.
When you change or create new forms, make sure all the appropriate people – like your family and doctors – recieve an updated copy of your living will or advanced directive.
What you don't want to do is just cross out or add new information unless it's only to change your address or phone number.