How A Living Will Fits Into An Estate Plan

Posted on

You can plan for the time when you are no longer able to make your own medical decisions by creating a living will. To find out more, read on.

Planning for Incapacity

Beyond living wills, a complete estate plan can cover powers of attorney that appoint someone to make important financial decisions when you are out of the country or too ill. In addition, estate planning increasingly involves making long-term care decisions. Making those choices now means one less thing to worry about when the time comes. Incapacity that occurs because of a medical or mental condition may also require some forethought.

What Is a Living Will?

These documents are known by various names depending on the location. Living wills are often also referred to as healthcare directives by many. They are medical documents to be used in hospital settings. A living will directs medical personnel on what, if any, life-preserving procedures are permitted if and when the named patient is unable to make decisions. Once created, a copy should be carried with you any time you enter a medical facility. You can also give one to the hospital to keep on file for you in many cases. Once a medical facility is in possession of a living will, the patient's records are updated so that all caregivers are aware of what it means.

Living Will Provisions

Making decisions yourself is a lot easier than placing that responsibility on your loved ones. Living wills are custom designed to fit your needs — there are few rules regarding what they cover. However, a living will is a legal and enforceable document. In many cases, speaking with an estate attorney will provide you with things to consider while creating a living will. However, many living wills cover the following situations:

  • When a living will is to come into effect. For instance, being declared brain dead by medical personnel can prompt the provisions of a living will to kick in. However, you can decide on other medical milestones.
  • How and when you are to be fed. When you are unable to swallow food, medical facilities may feed by a tube inserted by mouth or into the abdominal areas. You can decide what type of nutrition you are to be fed and how.
  • Lifesaving measures should be addressed. Many patients do not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to be performed upon them in a medical setting.
  • You can dictate when and how pain control medication can be administered.

For more info, contact a local estate attorney