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What is included in a living will?


No one really wants to think about what will happen when they can no longer care for themselves, but it will happen to most of us in our lifetime. Therefore, estate planning and creating a living will is critical in making sure our desires are heard and met.

A living will is a document that gives direction in a person's medical treatment if they are no longer able to communicate. With all the recent news stories regarding this issue it shows how important they can be when family members are unable to agree or make decisions during this emotional time. Living wills are also known as a healthcare directive. They can include medical care such as tube feeding, resuscitation and organ donation. The living will can also direct that all treatment options should be performed or a person can choose some medical options and reject others. A living will does not take effect until a patient is in a permanent vegetative state or terminally ill and can't communicate with medical providers regarding their medical care.

In addition to a living will many estate planning attorneys also recommend a person has a durable power of attorney. The durable power of attorney designates an attorney-in-fact to carry out the living will's instructions or to use that person's own judgment to make medical decisions. If a person is incapacitated, regardless of a terminal condition or permanent unconsciousness, an attorney-in-fact can legally make medical decisions.

If a person does not have a living will family members often argue about treatment options and what should or should not be provided. Doctors will only consult with family members and the person granted power of attorney regarding medical decisions.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Living Wills," Accessed Aug. 19, 2014

Source: Findlaw.com, "Living Wills," Accessed Aug. 19, 2014

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