Should I Sign a Living Will?

Should I Sign a Living Will?

Brian finally decided to sign a Will. As he chatted with his estate planning attorney, they discussed other documents that typically make up a complete estate plan: a durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney or health care surrogate designation. They also discussed optional documents, like the Living Will. Brian was left wondering, though, why he would need to sign a living Will if he had already signed a Designation of Health Care Surrogate.

The Difference

When you sign a Health Care Surrogate Designation, you name an agent or personal representative to make your healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so. For example, if Brian suffers a stroke or a severe head injury, he may lose the ability to communicate with health care providers. At that point, his personal representative would step in.

A Living Will, on the other hand, deals specifically with end-of-life decisions. It deals more with life-ending procedures than life-sustaining ones. For instance, Brian’s doctors state that he is near death because of a stroke. However, his life can be prolonged by hooking him up to machines. Because Brian signed a Living Will stating that he wanted to die naturally, his doctors and family felt comfortable withholding treatments that would sustain him artificially.

The Questions

If you feel squeamish talking about a living Will, you are not alone. After all, it is a document about end-of-life decisions. Most people do not enjoy talking about death. However, before you decide to let that Living Will gather dust rather than sign it, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I want to die naturally?
  2. Will my family struggle with the decision to end treatments?
  3. Do I want to die rather than live in a persistent vegetative state?
  4. If a medical condition appears to be terminal, do I want my doctors to stop treatments?
  5. Will my health care surrogate be afraid to “pull the plug”?

Maybe you answered “yes” to some or all of these questions. If so, you probably need to sign a Living Will. You may spare your family from distressing hospital room drama, not to mention significant time and potential legal expense.

Coordinate with an Estate Planning Attorney

As a Florida attorney board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates, Attorney John Mangan helps his clients develop complete estate plans. To schedule an appointment, call us at 772-324-9050 or fill out our Contact Form. Our office is conveniently located in Palm City, Florida. We also help clients throughout Florida, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.

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