Estate planning encompasses many elements. Your will dictates your final wishes for your assets after your death. You may have a financial power of attorney that takes care of your assets if you become incapacitated while living. Your medical power of attorney is someone you trust to make medical decisions if you’re unable to. Another element in your estate plan is a living will.
What Is a Living Will?
A living will is a document that details your choices about your medical treatment. You could be unconscious or simply unable to voice your wishes. A living will tells people what you want before you die. This document is also called an advance health care directive or directive to physicians. You can be as specific as you choose, to include any wishes about procedures you want or don’t want, directions about organ and tissue donation or a do-not-resuscitate order. You can also include the medical power of attorney in your living will, which gives a specific person (or group of people) to make decisions for you.
Do You Need a Living Will?
Only you can decide whether you need a living will. Your living will only goes into effect when you are both alive and unable to communicate. Once you are able to communicate on your own, your living will has no authority. Some states have specific guidelines for living wills, so you’ll want to make sure your living will is prepared in accordance to where you are living. If you move, you will need to redraft your living will.
Reviewing Your Living Will
A living will can be revoked at any time, provided you meet the legal standards in your state. You may want to review your living will every year or so. A new diagnosis that significantly changes your life could make you revisit your treatment and care decisions. If you get married or divorced, you may want to change your medical power of attorney. As you age, your values about end-of-life care may change. You’ll want to update your living will if that happens.
It isn’t easy to think about your mortality, but a living will can help your family if you are ever incapacitated. It can prevent family arguments and grudges. Planning ahead for your death with an estate planning lawyer in Rochelle Park, NJ, like from the Law Offices of Joshua Kaplan, P.L., is a gift you give your family. Part of that process can include a time when you are unable to communicate. Make an appointment to discuss your living will with an estate planning lawyer.