How to Make a Living Will?

A lawyer will urge you to make a will while you are still alive and that does make sense. But is this the same thing as a living will? No its not. A traditional will is a document that will list your assets and your heirs and how to distribute those assets within your heirs. It may also list your minor dependants or your elderly parents and designate caregivers for them.

However, a living will is slightly different. A living will is actually a healthcare declaration. In a living will, you are listing the type of healthcare you want to receive in case you are debilitated and cannot make those decisions yourself. This type of living will is often paired with a legal power of attorney that will clearly designate the person who will be responsible for taking healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Writing Your Living Will

Although we are focusing on the elderly, you should know that unexpected situations can happen at any age for any adult. Having a living will can avoid unnecessary suffering and ease caregivers of making painful decisions during moments of grief. Here is what you can do to make your own living will.

Contemplate Your Requirements

Think about what you want to happen if you fall sick. Do you want medical treatment to continue your life in any situation? Do you want treatment only if a cure is possible? Contemplate these questions and make a decision. You can also discuss your health with your primary doctor, your health care agent, family and friends.

Consider Specific Situations

Talk to your doctor about specific situations like resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis, antibiotic and antiviral use, comfort or palliative care, organ and tissue donation, and body donation. You should include these conditions in your living will. Some people may specifically put in DNR or DNI (do not resuscitate or do not intubate) codicils in their will to ensure that their wishes are followed.

Set Up The Will

An estate attorney can help you draw up a living will. All you have to do is tell him about your requirements and they will frame the living will for you.

You Will Need To Choose A Healthcare Proxy --
This usually refers to a medical power of attorney that is given to a close friend, medical professional, or lawyer. This proxy enables the person to make decisions on your behalf when you are unwell. Make sure that the person you select is emotionally and physically capable of enforcing your directives. Most people choose friends as family members may be compromised emotionally. Some states may require you to make a separate power of attorney while others may include it in Living Will.

Share The Living Will --
After making your living will, you should share it with your medical care provider. Make copies of your living will and share it with executors and guardians. File a copy with your primary doctor, with any major hospital that provides regular medical care, and even with your insurance care provider.

Changing Your Living Will --
You can change your living will at any time. The American Bar Association's Commission on Law and Aging recommends you evaluate your living will every year depending on diagnosis, deaths of family members, aging, and declining health.

We recommend you create a traditional will at the same time. A good lawyer will also help you navigate the tax and legal regulations surrounding a traditional will and you know that you are protected. Most states combine both a living will and a traditional will together in a document called Advance Directives but actual nomenclature will vary from state to state. Making an Advance Directive can be one of the best ways to protect your family from painful decisions while you are incapacitated.

Do It Now

The good news is that we are living longer. Good food and better healthcare has resulted in longer life spans. However, at the same time, chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc have resulted in elderly patients falling sick frequently. Medical emergencies can arise at any time and instead of fumbling around at the last minute, it's a good idea to create a living will well in advance. It will help your friends and family care for you while you are sick and ensure that you are comfortable.