Having a living will, or advance health care directive, should be a major part of your estate planning. It’s an essential document that will preserve your wishes when you might not be able to share them.
To give you a little more background, a living will is a document that states your wishes in the event you are on life support, and cannot communicate your end of life wishes. A living will only take effect if you’re facing imminent death, in an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state, or have severe, irreversible Alzheimers/dementia, leaving you unable to communicate your wishes. It also spares your family the agony of making life support decisions without your input. If you want to learn more about the essentials of a living will keep reading.
Who Should Have A Living Will?
Any person over the age of 18 should have a living will. A few reasons include:
- You are planning to take a big trip or vacation
- Your health is declining
- Designates who will make health care decisions for you
- There’s a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia in your family
- If you’re going to have surgery or hospitalization, it states your wishes in case of a life-threatening medical emergency
- If you have a terminal condition, with no hope of recovery, your plans are enacted on your behalf
What Should You Have in Your Living Will?
Choosing what to put in your living will is entirely up to you. You can be as specific or as broad as you want. However, there are certain areas you should regard more specifically.
You’ll need to have your wishes in writing regarding the most common life-sustaining treatments. Your living will should have answers to the following questions:
- Do you want CPR or Fibrillation? Do you want doctors to restart your heart if it stops?
- Do you want doctors to take measures to help you breathe, such as inserting breathing tubes or hooking you up to a ventilator?
- Do you want to be fed or hydrated if you’re in a vegetative state?
- Do you want to be put on dialysis if your kidneys stop functioning?
- Do you want any pain medicine to be administered?
Key Highlights of A Living Will
When composing your living will, it’s important to include answers to the above information, and any other important information regarding your health, along with what should occur in case of death. Not only will this ease things for you, but also your family during important life decisions.
Also, you may want to appoint a durable power of attorney to make medical decisions for you, in case something happens that’s not covered in your living will. To read more about durable powers of attorney, read Everything You Need to Know About A Health Care Power of Attorney.