What is a living will?

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Carl S. Goode |

A solid estate plan will include many documents to ensure your best interests are fully protected. Living wills are just one essential document that all estate planners must include for their own peace of mind.

Living wills contain information on the type of medical care you would prefer if you could no longer communicate your wishes. As a result, they are essential in situations where major illness or injury prevents you from communicating with others, such as family members and medical staff.

Who needs a living will?

All people should have a living will in place. Even if you are young and in good health, consider what might happen if sudden illness or injury occurs. Without a living will, your family will need to determine what type of medical care you prefer. In addition to potentially making the wrong decisions, this will also place undue stress on your loved ones, who will already experience major upset based on your state of health.

What kind of information do living wills include?

Living wills contain information on medical care often used in urgent situations. For example, many people include information on resuscitation measures, such as CPR. You may also provide directives regarding mechanical ventilation, such as whether you want the treatment at all, and if so, for how long.

Some people specify that they only want palliative care in their living wills. Palliative care offers relief from discomfort, but stops short of providing life-extending care, per the wishes of the estate planner.

Along with a living will, many people also implement a power of attorney. This document enables the person you choose, such as a close friend or family member, to make decisions on your behalf.

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