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Specify your desired medical care in a living will

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Estate Planning

Estate planning goes beyond making a simple will. You should prepare for the possibility that someday you will be too infirm to communicate your healthcare wishes, or that a serious accident could incapacitate you. This is why many people create an advance medical directive.

A living will is part of an advance medical directive. You create this document while you still have the capacity to make decisions on your behalf.

What a living will accomplishes

Unlike a traditional will, a living will expresses how you want treatment and care in specific medical situations, such as if you go into a coma or suffer dementia. The goal of a living will is to make your voice heard so that any treatment you receive complies with your values and beliefs.

Provisions you can include in a living will

Commonly, people state their preferences regarding artificial life support measures, including mechanical ventilation, CPR, dialysis or feeding tubes. You can indicate whether you would want these interventions used temporarily, permanently or not at all in end-stage conditions.

You can also provide instructions about palliative or comfort care. For example, you could explain if you want maximum pain management even if it may hasten death. You may also state if you want to stay at your home in your last days rather than experience them in a hospital.

Another consideration involves organ and tissue donation wishes after death. Some living wills have a section to specify if you want to be an organ donor.

Remember to update a living will

As with a traditional will, you can update your living will multiple times as you get older. People may change their values over time, so you should feel free to revisit your living will to reflect your latest beliefs. Also, you can name a healthcare proxy who can make care decisions on your behalf. Your living will should act as a guide for your advocate.

Thinking about your last days may not be a pleasant subject, but preparing in advance can spare your family the agony of guessing your wishes, plus you may feel good about any care you receive in the future.