A Living Will As Part Of Your Estate Plan
Estate planning consists of several documents detailed to protect families in case a loved one becomes incapacitated or is no longer on this earth, including a living will or health care directive. Each document provides information on assets, physical care and treatment, authoritative decision making and other areas pertaining to the individual whose estate is being handled. Although the topic is not always pleasant to discuss, it is one that needs to be addressed.
What is a Living Will?
A living will states your wishes regarding medical treatment if you are not able to make your wishes known. It typically deals with prolonging life with medical intervention. Sometimes called an advance directive, health care directive, or even a physician’s directive, a living will is not the same type of document as a will or a trust. A living will only deals with medical decisions. It has nothing to do with distributing assets. A living will ensures that your physician and your family members know exactly how you want end of life issues handled in the event you cannot speak for yourself.
It is advantageous to have a lawyer prepare your living will. Requirements vary by state and your lawyer will make sure your living will meets these requirements. Many attorneys will put together a package for you that includes estate planning, health care power of attorney and a living will.
Living wills are made to confirm that your medical wishes are carried out. This document gives details to how you will be cared for in case of an emergency or if you become unable to care for yourself. The contents typically include quality of life, end of life, and resuscitation techniques. When completing the living will, be descriptive and detailed as these terms cannot be reversed and are primarily between you and your healthcare provider.
The purpose of a living will is to let your physician and family members know what type of medical treatments you do and do not want in the case of a terminal illness or if you are in a permanent vegetative state. As long as you can speak for yourself, your living will is not in effect. Only when you become incapacitated will it become effective. Your doctor may need to provide proof of a terminal illness or a permanent unconscious state before this important document can take precedence.
If you are interested in talking with an Estate Planning Attorney about having a Living Will drafted, contact Denver Estate Tax Planning today.