Living wills are a useful tool to let medical professionals know what types of treatment they should give you when you are incapacitated and unable to express your wishes. To make them work there are a few things that you need to do.
Part of planning your estate is planning for your end of life care. If you are ill and incapacitated, then it is important to have plans in place regarding how you should be treated and who should manage your affairs. Not making such plans now can risks chaos and legal struggles later that can drain your eventual estate of assets.
One of the key components to planning your end of life care is an advanced medical directive, commonly called a living will. This document lets you state in advance what treatments medical professionals should give in the event you are incapacitated with a terminal illness or injury and have no chance of recovery.
However, these important instructions are too often ineffective as Wealth Management discusses in “What Advisors Need to Know about Living Wills.”
For your living will to be effective when you need it there are a few things you should consider. First, it is a good idea to be as specific as possible in the document. Detail exactly what treatments you do and do not want to authorize in advance.
You also need to let other people know you have a living will. If you stick it in a desk drawer without telling anyone, then no one will know to give it to medical professionals at the appropriate time.
Finally, every state has its own laws concerning living wills. In some states you must use official forms. In every state, even if official forms are not required, specific language must be included in a valid living will document.
For all of these reasons and more, make sure your living will is drawn up by your estate planning attorney without delay.
Reference: Wealth Management (Sept. 27, 2016) “What Advisors Need to Know about Living Wills.”