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Living will information

Usually Kent area residents do not want to spend time thinking about what will happen to them at the end of their lives. Although it is not a popular topic to consider, advanced health care directives -- better known as a living will -- are an important document for all people, regardless of age.

A living will is a written document with a person's personal preferences spelled out for medical care if the person is no longer able to speak for themselves and make these decisions. This includes when a person is in a coma, terminally ill, seriously injured, burdened with serious dementia or near the end of life. The document lists what medical interventions a person would want and not want to keep them alive. It can also include information regarding pain management and organ donation.

There are many different end of life decisions that should be addressed in a living will. These include if a person would want resuscitation by CPR or an AED. It should also include whether a person would want to be placed on a ventilator and for how long they would wish to remain on it. It can address whether one would want to be fed using a tube intravenously or through the stomach and for how long. Dialysis can also be addressed and a person can dictate how long they would want to receive this treatment. Antibiotics are used to treat infections but if a person is near the end of life they may not find these medications necessary.

Once people reach the final stage of their life they can enter palliative care. In a living will a person can address what interventions they would want during this stage including pain management. It can address if a person would like to die at home, fed ice chips, avoiding invasive tests and more. After a person's life has ended they can address being an organ or tissue donator and donating the person's body for scientific research.

Although thinking about the end of one's life can be a depressing topic for many it is extremely important that one's wishes are written down and shared with loved ones. This is not an issue just for older adults as young people can unexpectedly face a serious medical condition at any time. A legal professional skilled in estate planning can guide a family through drafting a living will and answer all of the important questions.

Source:, "Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions," accessed on Feb. 27, 2016

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To speak with an attorney at Gellner Law Group about estate planning, probate, trusts, wills or tax controversy, contact our law office in Kent, Washington, today. You can call 425-336-2908 or send us an email. We provide representation across the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

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