What is a Living Will?

A person signing a Living Will document

Most of us know that a Will is a legal document that may be used to express our end-of-life intentions and to specify how we want our property split and donated to individuals we care about. Everyone should have a will as a core estate planning document.

Few people are aware that the Will has a relative in estate planning: the Living Will. A Living Will, you may think, serves the same purpose as a standard Will. While this may be accurate in some minor ways, the reality is much different. A Living Will has no effect on our deaths or what occurs after we die. Continue reading to learn more about the purpose of a Living Will and why everyone should have one.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a form of an estate planning document that you would use to communicate your medical care preferences in the future. “Why would I need to jot down my desires at a period when I am still alive?” you may think. “Is it not possible for me to just tell my medical staff what I want?” In the event that this is not practicable, a Living Will takes effect.

This is sometimes referred to as ‘incapacitation,’ or when a person is unable to make medical choices or convey their medical intentions. Incapacitation may result from a variety of diseases, accidents, and circumstances. Comas, strokes, and dementia are just a few of the illnesses that may leave a person mentally or physically incapacitated. Incapacitation may sometimes be transient, as in the case of a serious sickness that is followed by a complete recovery.

Let us return to the living will definition now that you have a clearer understanding of what it means to be disabled. You would address any number of medical choices to be made on your behalf in your living will, including circumstances that are both plausible and unlikely. In a moment, we will provide some samples of what may be included in a Living Will. Living Wills are legal papers, so you may rest easy knowing that your healthcare professionals are legally obligated to carry out your requests.

A Living Will is a sub-set of a larger category of legal agreements known as ‘advance directives,’ which may all be used to address your future medical treatment. Some people confuse the two concepts, but when you look at the definition of a living will, you will see that they are not the same thing. Here, we look at the fundamental distinctions between these two terminologies.

What is a Living Will and What Does It Do?

A Living Will is used to tell people about your medical wishes. Whether you are unconscious, your physicians and loved ones will not be able to ask you if you want to take this new drug or get this medical treatment. They are obliged to make educated estimates in the absence of a Living Will.

A Living Will provides a framework for carers to make treatment choices. A Living Will ensures that your desires are carried out, and it may also provide clarity to your loved ones and caretakers. They will feel at ease knowing that they are making medical choices that are in line with their wishes. As you can expect, making these choices when they may mean the difference between life and death can be very stressful for anybody.

What Makes a Living Will Distinct?

Wills and Living Wills are diametrically opposed. A Will is a legally binding estate planning tool that specifies what should happen when you die. It gives detailed instructions on how your assets should be allocated. A Living Will concerns itself with what should happen to you while you are still alive. It covers your medical choices in the event that you become disabled, either temporarily or permanently.

They do, however, have certain commonalities. First and foremost, they are both vital legal papers that should be included in your estate planning. Second, they are both ways of expressing your desires when you are unable to do it yourself.

What Does a Living Will Contain?

A Living Will lays down your wishes for medical treatment and procedures if you become disabled. You may, for example, construct a list of operations that you allow or, if it is simpler, a list of procedures that you do not allow. Medications are no exception. Living Wills also provide you the opportunity to express any religious or philosophical ideas you may have. This kind of information may help you make more informed decisions about your end-of-life care and what must happen to your body and organs if you die.

Here are some examples of what a Living Will may include:

  • Preferences for life-prolonging therapies
  • Preferences when it comes to life support
  • A list of medication you take or do not take
  • You will be given a list of processes to approve or reject.
  • Providers should be aware of any sensitivities or disorders.
  • Scenarios in which you would want to die naturally
  • Choosing whether or not to donate organs
  • Wishes for the end of life
  • Medical and end-of-life expenditures are covered by available resources.
  • Any moral, religious, or philosophical convictions that could influence medical choices

What Types of People should have a Living Will?

Anyone, regardless of age, wealth, ethnicity, gender, religion, or creed, should have a Living Will.

Even if the emergency never occurs, it is commonly agreed that conserving money for an emergency is a good thing. In a similar vein, it is always a good idea to take the appropriate precautions and steps to protect your wishes and your loved ones from potential dangers.

Unfortunately, every single one of us is in danger of being paralyzed at any moment. COVID-19 demonstrated how a pandemic might catch the whole globe off guard, causing numerous people so sick that they wished they had a Living Will.

While we do not want to live in continual worry, we all know that it just takes one accident or disease to affect our lives significantly. It makes no difference how old we are or how wealthy we are.

That is why focusing on what we can control and taking action may feel so liberating. In this case, although we have no influence over whether or not we become incapacitated, we do have power over whether or not we execute a Living Will. That way, if anything unforeseen happened, we would have a piece of mind knowing that we would get medical treatment precisely as we wanted it.

Is it Possible to Make a Living Will Without Hiring an Attorney?

Yes, you may create a Living Will without consulting an attorney. It does not matter whether you wrote your Living Will yourself, signed it, obtained witness signatures, and had it notarized; it is just as lawful as of the one you would write with a lawyer.

Following that, you will discover some pointers on how to draft a Living Will.

What Is a Living Will and How Do I Make One?

This article may have piqued your interest in Living Wills so far. They are all about taking control of your situation and ensuring that your care providers are fully aware of your wants and wishes in the event that you need medical assistance but are unable to communicate.

You decide to sit down and make your own Living Will, but you quickly realize you have no idea how to do so. We have got your back, so do not worry! The four basic steps to create your Living Will are outlined below:

1. Consider your chosen treatment alternatives and make a selection.

This is arguably the most difficult aspect of drafting a Living Will. We seldom consider certain medical procedures that may be required over our lifespan. Consider how you feel about life-sustaining therapies, life support, and your end-of-life preferences. What do you consider to be a decent quality of life? How long do you want to remain on life support? Even if your doctor says, you have gone into a vegetative state? These are the difficult questions you must answer and then convey in your writing.

2. Fill out a Living Will form that your state provides.

To use as a reference, download a free Living Will form or template that is unique to your state. You may decide to use the form or template as your Living Will after filling out the form or template. You may also use it as a guide to help you decide what to include in your paper.

3. Draft your Will and get the necessary signatures.

Remember that without the appropriate signatures, your Living Will will not be legally valid. Make a copy of your Will and have your witnesses sign it as well. It is advisable to find out what your state needs in this case. In most states, two witnesses’ signatures are required. Your paperwork may also need to be notarized in certain states.

4. Keep your Living Will in a secure location.

Find a secure location to store your Living Will after it has been signed into effect. To remain organized, keep it in the same place as your other estate planning paperwork. Safekeeping may be done in a home safe or a secured desk drawer. You might also make a digital copy and send it to your doctor. It is a good idea to re-read and change your Living Will on a regular basis, so do not forget to toss out the old forms and hand over the new ones.

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