Considerations When Creating a Living Will

Considerations When Creating a Living WillA living will is a special advance directive. Like other advance directives such as the medical power of attorney, a living will is created to communicate your preferred end-of-life care and treatment options. However, unlike the latter document, a living will does not specify the people who will be in charge of overseeing the execution of your wishes. All it states is the kind of medical treatment that you would or would not want to receive in the event of terminal illness, serious injury or other life-threatening medical conditions.

A living will should not be confused with other documents that seem to be of similar nature, particularly a last will and testament. While the last will and testament covers all aspects of a person’s life, a living will only covers medical care issues. It does not have any provisions for things like the distribution of an estate after the death of its owner. But a living will must still be in written form and signed according to specific legal requirements in the relevant state.

When creating a living will, the first thing you need to take into consideration is your value system. What are the things you value the most? When doing this, consider important values such as your religious beliefs. For instance, if you are Buddhist but live among Christians then you might want to specify in your living will that you want to be cremated when you die. Or if you do not believe in modern medicine, then you should specify in your will that you should not be taken to a hospital no matter what happens to you.

Another important consideration that must be taken into account when drafting your living will is opinions from medical professionals. Make sure you talk to your doctor or physician first and get a proper understanding of the medical options open to you under end-of-care treatment. That way you can make informed decisions when it comes to drafting your living will. In particular, make sure you talk to your physician if you have any questions about issues such as:

  • Dialysis- do you wish to be placed on dialysis to remove waste from your blood if your kidney fails to function properly?
  • Resuscitation- if your heart stops, would you want to use a resuscitation machine such as a defibrillator?
  • Tube feeding- would you want to be tube fed if you fall into a coma or lose your ability to eat on your own?
  • Mechanical ventilation- if you are unable to breathe on your own, would you wish to be placed on mechanical ventilation to help you breathe?

Although the provisions of a living will are supposed to be voided upon the death of the testator, the law allows one to include preferred burial arrangements when their time to go comes. For example, if you wish to donate some of your organs when you die or donate your entire body to science then you can specify that in the living will.

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