Most estate plans include a Will, maybe a trust, a durable power of attorney, and an advance directive. Your advance directive may or may not include a Living Will. It’s totally your choice. However, there are significant reasons to sign a Living Will. In this article, we will consider those reasons and what may happen if you decide not to add a Living Will to your estate plan.
When you sign a Living Will, you state in writing your beliefs about end-of-life decisions. You can state the circumstances under which you do not want your life to be prolonged and name a surrogate to carry out the provisions of the Living Will.
For example, Liza had watched her father linger for months in a persistent vegetative state after a serious brain injury. However, his family did not have the authority to end treatments and, in fact, disagreed on whether to end treatments. Hoping to avoid the same issues, Liza signed a Living Will. In it, she clearly stated that she did not want her life to be prolonged in a similar situation. She chose a surrogate who would honor her wishes. Because of Liza’s Living Will, her family will not be put in a position of having to make those tough end-of-life decisions.
Let’s say you are updating your estate plan and decide to sign a Living Will. Later, you read an article about medical advances for certain terminal conditions and decide you no longer want a Living Will. You can revoke the Living Will or prepare a new one deleting the provision about stopping treatment for a terminal condition.
It’s your choice and you can change your mind as often as you like.
Over the years, maybe you have had conflicting opinions about end-of-life medical treatment. If the time came to make decisions for you, would your family members really know what you want them to do? If you sign a Living Will, you will be letting everyone know, in one document, how you want to handle having a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or a persistent vegetative state.
The best way to make sure your wishes are honored is to make a clear statement. And, as noted above, you can always change your Living Will if your feelings change.
At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we’ve helped many clients develop comprehensive estate plans that meet their goals and needs. We can set up an appointment for you.
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Written by: John Mangan, JD, MBA