How and Why to Create a Living Will
A living will is a document that no one wants to think about. Also known as an advance healthcare directive or advance health directive, a living will gives instructions as to how the holder of the will would like their medical care handled in the case that they are unable to make decisions for themselves. While you may have discussed this issue with your family – it is important to have this information written down on paper in a legally binding living will as part of your estate planning process.
Rules regarding living wills typically differ by state. For this reason, it is a good idea to involve an attorney when creating a living will. Living wills are important for the comfort they provide your family at a difficult time – when dealing with the illness and possible death of someone they love. Creating a legally binding living will allows your family to know exactly what the right decision is. Your loved ones won’t have to struggle, or worse, fight, with medical decisions that need to be made when one is so ill that they’re incapacitated.
A living will often creates or goes along with a durable power of attorney. In some states the living will creates the durable power of attorney (or DPOA), in other states a separate document is needed. The DPOA is the person who carries out the decisions written out in the living will or advance health directive. Naming a DPOA is important, as it allows you – and not a judge – to appoint an executor of your living will and decisions should you become incapacitated. Not only does this give you and your family peace of mind, but it could also save time in the decision making process. Not having to wait for a judge to appoint a DPOA allows your family to put your living will into action as soon as it is deemed necessary.
Working with an attorney to create a living will can save your family time, grief, and arguments near the end of your life or during times of great illness. Going into as much detail as possible in your living will can save your family as much pain as possible. A good attorney will help you to imagine all of the possible issues that could arise should a living will need to be invoked, and work with you to solve problems for your family ahead of time.