Understanding what makes your estate planning complete can be difficult, especially if this is your first time through the process. As you consider your options and put together your choices for wills, trusts, and other pieces of your larger estate planning picture, it is also important to think about your decisions about end of life care. While some people do not develop strong feelings about the measures used to preserve their lives during a medical emergency and choose to let the doctors' recommendations stand, many people wish to set limits on the treatments they will endure if they move past a certain point of physical incapacitation.
The living will, also known as an advance directive, is your opportunity to make those decisions clear in an enforceable document, protecting yourself and ensuring that your final wishes are carried out exactly. As part of the living will process, you might also select a medical power of attorney to make decisions that you did not foresee, or some people elect to name a power of attorney as their sole measure.
What goes into a living will?
You might be wondering what you will need to put together when you have a living will drafted. The truth is, there are quite a few different parts you can choose from, but every one of these documents is different. That's why it is important to work with an attorney when you are putting yours together. The Mayo Clinic lists several possible parts of a living will:
- Do-not-resuscitate orders
- Do-not-intubate orders
- Dialysis decisions
- Antiviral and antibiotic decisions
- Statements concerning the donation of your body or organs
After you have a living will document
Once your lawyer has helped you finish your living will, there are a few more steps to take. You need to make sure that the document is accessible and that the right people have access to it, which means putting it in a safe place where it can easily be found. It also means making a list of trustworthy people who can hold copies of it in case someone needs to notify your doctors about your wishes. If you have a regular care facility, it can also be a good idea to leave your living will on file with them.
Whether or not you choose to put together a living will, it is important to consider the option carefully. It's also a good idea to designate a medical power of attorney in either case. Either option or both can easily be folded into your estate planning by your lawyer. Ask an attorney about living wills today.