Why a Living Will is Important
A living will lays out your preferences for life-sustaining medical treatment. It is often accompanied by a health care power of attorney, which allows someone to make treatment decisions for you if you are incapacitated and the living will does not have specific instructions for the situation at hand. “Living will” and “advance directive” are often used synonymously.
As of 2017, only around one in three American adults had an advance directive for end-of-life care prepared. Those who are older than 65 are more likely to have an advance directive prepared than those who are younger, as are those that have chronic illnesses. People may be unwilling to prepare these documents because they fear that they won’t necessarily reflect their wishes at the time they become relevant. However, the documents can be changed as long as they are notarized (depending on current law). And if you continue to communicate your values with the agent you assigned as your power of attorney, they can make decisions based on your most recent preferences.
So why is a living will important? It reduces ambiguity which can prevent family disputes during what is already a difficult time. It may seem like something that can be put off, but life is unpredictable; one never knows when these documents could become relevant. Furthermore, it needn’t be a hassle. A living will is a straightforward document; however, it’s important to work with legal counsel to make sure your beliefs are properly stated. Other health care documents should also be prepared at that time, like a health care power of attorney that designates a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable. Once you have signed any documents, make sure you keep them updated and be diligent in communicating with whomever you named to act on your behalf.
If you need a living will or health care power of attorney, or already have one that you would like reviewed, give us a call.
Elder Law of Omaha provides a range of services to our clients including estate planning, asset preservation trusts, long-term care Medicaid planning, and more. If you would like to discuss how to plan for your future, call our firm today at (402) 614-6400 to schedule your free initial attorney consultation.
Visit our website at www.ElderLawOmaha.com.
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