One aspect of growing older is recognizing the necessity of preparing for medical emergencies in advance. Committing to a healthy lifestyle is important, but you should also arrange all of your affairs to reduce the stress on your loved ones in the event of a sudden illness or accident. A living will is your opportunity to state your wishes concerning medical decisions if you are incapacitated. What do you need to know about writing a living will and legally putting it in place?
What is a Living Will?
A living will does not designate beneficiaries of property and other assets like a traditional will. Instead, it lists what medical care you wish to receive if you are unable to state your wishes at the point of service. Everyone can benefit from creating a will in advance, but it is especially helpful if you have wishes for life-prolonging care that may go against a doctor’s recommendations.
Writing a Living Will: 4 Steps to Follow
Use the following guidelines to create a living will that coincides with your desires and is legally sound.
- Learn About Life-Prolonging Medical Care
First, a living will assesses your preferences concerning life-prolonging treatments including surgery, blood transfusions, resuscitation and more. You must also decide how long you would like to receive food and water if you are unconscious with limited to no brain activity. You can also make designations on what type of palliative care you would like to receive, which includes pain-relieving treatments once it is decided that death will happen naturally with no further medical intervention.
- Designate a Healthcare Agent
You can also choose a trusted loved one to handle all other matters concerning your healthcare decisions by giving them power of attorney. This form can be filled out and filed along with your living will, which will act as a guide to your wishes for your healthcare proxy.
- Hire an Attorney to Verify the Document
There are many legal websites that offer free downloadable living will templates. Even though it may seem straightforward to fill out an online form, sign and have it notarized, you should make sure the document is sound and have it verified by your lawyer. If you already have an estate planning lawyer, creating a living will may be part of the entire planning process.
- Place Your Living Will in the Right Hands
A copy of your will should be placed in a folder with your medical records. Give a copy to your primary physician. You should also make sure your designated healthcare agent or other close family member has an official copy as well. A living will is only effective if the medical professionals treating your condition have access to the directions enclosed in the legal document.
It is important to write a will, but it is also vital to ensure your current healthcare plan covers all urgent medical emergencies. Talk to the team at My Senior Health Plan if you have doubts about your medical coverage.