daughter helping mother look through estate planning documents

What to Include in Your Living Will

Many people underestimate or do not consider the peace of mind that can come with putting a comprehensive estate plan in place. A comprehensive estate plan, after all, includes much more than your average last will and testament directing where your assets and belongings are to go after you pass away. For instance, many key tools in an estate plan include those that address situations where the creator of such tools becomes incapacitated and unable to manage their own affairs or communicate an important preference for the medical care they wish to receive or not to receive.

A living will is one such estate planning document that can put your mind at ease in an otherwise uncertain future. While we may not know if we will ever be in a tragic situation where we become incapacitated, we can certainly plan for this and work to ensure our wishes and preferences are honored regardless of whether we can speak for ourselves. A living will speaks such preferences even when you are incapacitated and in critical medical condition.

What to Include in Your Living Will

A living will is a legal document in which a person can set forth the health care treatment they wish to receive or not receive if they are ever incapacitated, in critical condition, and unable to speak such preferences for themselves. Oftentimes, a living will is executed in conjunction with a health care surrogate in which an agent, the “surrogate,” is empowered to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal should the principal ever become incapacitated.

Living wills can be as specific and detailed as you wish. Obviously the more details you supply, the more situations the living will is likely to address. You can detail what type of care are to be given and what are not to be given. This will usually center around things such as life-prolonging medical care. Life prolonging medical care may include things such as:

  • Ventilators
  • Blood transfusions
  • CPR
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Administration of medications
  • Dialysis
  • Surgery

Be clear on what life-prolonging measures you do or do not want. You should also specify whether you want to be given intravenous food and water should you be in a permanent vegetative state. Furthermore, you may have strong preferences regarding palliative care. Palliative care is meant to reduce pain and so it is usually referencing pain medication. You can specify what types of pain medications you want to be used or not used under certain situations.

There are a number of other preferences you may want to specify in your living will. For instance, you may want to specify that you consent to experimental medical procedures which may be applicable to your health status under the circumstances. You may wish to authorize your health care surrogate to consent to experimental treatment on your behalf. You can also specify whether you want to donate your organs and whether or not you want an autopsy in your living will.

Once you have executed your living will, you should consider distributing copies to your loved ones, family members, doctors, preferred hospital, and your health care surrogate. This document, after all, can only be effective if the right people know about its existence and can access it should the need arrive.

Estate Planning Attorneys

For a comprehensive estate plan, you can count on to protect your interests and preferences no matter what surprise life has in store for you, talk to the team at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace. Contact us today.