What is a living will, and do you need one?

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What is a living will, and do you need one?

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | estate administration & probate

A living will is a legal document that outlines your preferences for medical treatment when you cannot communicate due to incapacitation. It includes information about the type of health care you wish to receive or not, such as life-sustaining treatments, pain medication, organ donation and other end-of-life preferences.

A simple word of mouth to your loved ones about what you want to happen does not suffice in such crucial decisions. You need a duly signed and witnessed living will for your instructions to have legal backing.

Who needs a living will?

It helps to prepare for any unforeseen eventualities in life. While it is necessary to have plans for the future if you are terminally ill or before a critical medical procedure, everyone above the legal age and of sound mind needs a living will.

An unexpected illness or injury can leave you incapacitated, and it will be upon your loved ones to decide what happens next. You can remove that burden from their shoulders by creating a living will. It could avert a potential fallout among your close family members should disagreements arise.

How to get started with a living will

Like any other legally enforceable document, you must meet the legal requirements when creating a living will. You should have testamentary capacity and must sign the living will in the presence of witnesses.

It is also advisable to appoint someone who will implement your decisions or wishes as specified in the living will or make other medical decisions on your behalf, known as a healthcare proxy.

Get appropriate assistance

Consider seeking professional guidance if you are unsure of the steps to take or how everything works regarding living wills and other incapacitation planning tools. Knowing that you will remain in control to the very end and have everything in place to that effect will give you peace of mind.

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