Although its name may suggest otherwise, a living will differs from other types of wills in a few ways. Understandably, you may have some questions about the process of drawing up a living will, and what a living will entails. If you’re looking to make a living will or have a legal question, it’s advisable that you seek law help or legal advice from an experienced attorney. If you’re one of the 44 percent of consumers who would be likely to check out a lawyer’s website, you may find helpful information for your legal search. However, to give you a basic understanding on living wills prior to enlisting legal help, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions on the subject:
How is a living will different from other types of wills?
A living will is not used in the same way a last will and trust would be (i.e., to designate property in the event of a person’s death). Instead, a living will is a legal document that states an individual’s desires for end-of-life medical care. If the person becomes somehow unable to make their own medical decisions or communicate their wishes, a living will instructs others how they want to be medically treated.<
Why is it important to have a living will?
If you have specific opinions about how you would like your medical treatment to be handled — for instance, whether or not you want to be kept on life support for a prolonged period of time — it can be very useful to have a living will. If you don’t have one, your family and physicians can only guess as to your wishes, and this can often lead to lengthy and painful arguments about your care. When you create a living will, your loved ones won’t have to wonder what you would want them to do.
When will a living will take effect?
A living will is put into effect once a doctor certifies you are terminally ill, in a vegetative state, permanently unconscious or otherwise completely unable to make your own medical decisions. It is not self-activating, so you cannot decide when it takes effect.
What kinds of options do I have with a living will?
A qualified, experienced lawyer can help you with more specific information about this legal question, but typically, you will have three different choices: to have medical staff do everything in their power to keep you alive (including life support machines); to have life-sustaining methods be limited to a tube for feeding and hydration; or to have any and all life-sustaining methods withheld. Keep in mind that no matter which option you choose, you will always be provided with medications to ease pain and discomfort.
Should I have a lawyer help me with my living will?
It’s always advisable to enlist the help of an attorney to create a living will. Since this type of will is an important document, you will want a lawyer’s expertise to make sure the documents are well thought out and written correctly.
Can I change my mind about my living will?
Yes. As long as you are of sound mind and acting under your own free will, you can terminate an existing living will or draft an entirely new one to take its place.
Once I’ve made my living will, what should be done?
You should make several copies of your will and keep the original with other important papers. Ideally, a living will should not be kept in a safety deposit box, as they can be difficult to access and are often not opened until after the person has passed away. Distribute copies of your living will to your doctors and family members who will be impacted.
If you’re exploring the idea of creating a living will, it can be important to have easy access to affordable legal advice. With a legal insurance plans, you can feel secure in the knowledge that you can always contact an experienced lawyer, should the need arise. If you’re interested in finding out more about legal protection or have a legal question, please contact us today.