There are certain things that can potentially be sources of confusion for individuals when it comes to living wills. One is that these documents have a name that is very similar to another device that is often a big part of estate plans: legal wills. It is important for individuals to not confuse these two type of documents with each other, as they are aimed at dealing with very different sorts of issues.
Legal wills are aimed at addressing some of the fundamental issues of what will happen after a person dies. Such documents can allow individuals to set out instructions on a variety of different after-death matters, such as how they want their property to be distributed when they pass away.
Living wills on the other hand, as the name hints at, are not intended to address matters that arise after person has died, but a specific kind of situation that can arise while a person is still living. This situation is a person developing a terminal illness or a major disability. In a living will, a person can set out guidelines regarding what they want to have happen regarding their medical treatment if they develop such an illness or disability and they are no longer able to make medical decisions on their own. It can contain instructions regarding end-of-life care matters such as:
- Artificial life support.
- Artificial hydration.
- Artificial feeding.
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- Pain relief.
Many difficult and impactful decisions can arise in relation to end-of-life care issues. Living wills allow individuals to have their voice and views heard regarding these decisions, even if they end up losing their capacity to make or communicate medical decisions by the time end-of-life care issues arise for them. Thus, a living will can be an important thing to include in an estate plan.
Our firm understands the important role a living will can play in an estate plan and can help individuals with drafting a living will that accurately reflects their wishes regarding end-of-life care issues. We can help answer questions our clients have about living wills and can help explain anything they find confusing about such documents or other aspects of estate planning.