What is a Living Will?

A Living Will, also known as a Health Care Directive, is a document which allows you to tell your loved ones your preferences regarding difficult end of life decisions.

Imagine if you had a medical condition or injury that was so severe that you were not able to communicate, and your loved ones were placed in a position where they were asked by medical personnel whether certain treatments and interventions should be administered to you.  These are decisions such as whether or not to provide artificial nutrition or hydration, or whether a respirator should be used.  Another difficult decision is whether pain medication should be administered even if it could hasten death.

It is a terrible possibility to consider, and it would undoubtedly be particularly difficult if your loved ones had no idea what you would want.

A Health Care Directive works best when paired with a Health Care Power of Attorney as part of your personal estate planning.  This document allows you to designate the person or persons you want to make these hard decisions (your agent or agents).  In effect the Health Care Power of Attorney designates who will speak for you, and the Health Care Directive gives your agent guidance in what to say.

A Health Care Power of Attorney can also give your agent:

  • The right to provide informed consent for health care decisions;
  • The ability to access your medical records;
  • Manage health care service providers including in-home care;
  • Grant authority for medications as well as treatment plans; and
  • Admit and discharge from hospitals and other medical facilities.

End of life decisions are difficult to think about, and few people discuss these issues even with those closest to them.  By preparing a Health Care Directive and Health Care Power of Attorney, you give yourself the peace of time that your wishes have been clearly expressed, and you give your loved ones the ability to make tough decisions knowing that they are making the choice you wanted for yourself.

Do you have questions regarding Living Wills and estate planning ? Call Larissa today at (206) 624-6271.