The estate planning process involves the execution of various different legally binding documents. Everyone has heard of the legal device called the last will, but this is not the only type of will that is used in the field of estate planning.
There is another type of will called a living will. A living will is an advance directive for health care.
Doctors can sometimes keep people alive for extended periods of time through the utilization of artificial life sustaining measures. These would include mechanical respiration, artificial nutrition, and artificial hydration. If the life sustaining measures were removed, the individual in question would pass away.
If you were to be in this position, would you want the medical staff to allow nature to take its course, or would you want to be kept alive indefinitely? This is a very personal question, and it is a question that you can and should answer for yourself.
You can do so when you create your living will.
A living will is used to state your preferences regarding the utilization of life sustaining measures. When you have a living will in place, the physicians would be legally compelled to follow your instructions.
Consequences of Inaction
If you do not have a living will, your next of kin would be asked to make this decision on your behalf if you were to become unable to communicate while in a terminal condition.
Consider the way the decision-maker would feel. This is an excruciating position to be placed in, even if you are reasonably certain that you are doing the right thing.
In addition to the above, there could also be disagreements among family members with regard to the proper course of action. This can result in hard feelings and acrimony during a time when family members should be coming together in support of one another.
When you have a living will in place, your own decisions would be honored, and your family members would have no reason to disagree with one another.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
There is another advance directive that should be part of your incapacity plan. You cannot cover every possible medical contingency in your living will. To account for this, you can execute a durable power of attorney for health care.
With this document you name an agent who would be empowered to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
Free Incapacity Planning Consultation
Everyone should have an incapacity plan embedded within a broader, comprehensive estate plan. If you are ready to put your advance directives for health care in place, our firm can help.
We offer free consultations, and you can send us a message through this page to request an appointment: Southampton PA Estate Planning Attorneys.
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