Though a sore topic for most, Living Wills also known as Advance Health Care Directives,
can be an important part of life and invaluable safety measure. If you or a loved one should unfortunately need help directing those around them as to what medical care needs are to be given in a difficult situation. Sometimes part of a Estate Plan or Trust, a Living Will can be a tricky subject for those who have never created one. Below we’ll focus on what a Living Will is, what should be included in the write up of one, how to create one and what do with it once it is completed.
What is a Living Will
Generally speaking, a Living Will is a document outlying the type of care (or lack thereof) that a person wishes to receive during a time of incapacitation. More specifically, a Living Will is a document that details specific care requirements that is handed out to family members, close friends, medical professionals and/or hospitals.
Unlike the common will, a Living Will is not documentation outlining what property is to be left to who and when or who is to be the new guardian for children. A Living Will is to be followed as the creator is still alive, not when one is deceased.
What a Living Will should contain
In order to ensure that your particular Living Will is complete, you’ll want to put any and all wishes regarding medical care, no matter how minute, into the document. This of course isn’t the most exciting task, but it is completely necessary and worth it in the long run. When detailing your Living Will, you’ll want to include any requests for life prolonging medical care, food and water requirements as well as any palliative care.
As far as life prolonging care is concerned, you’ll want to cover whether you’ll be interested in blood transfusions, diagnostic tests, administration of different types of drugs and if CPR should be preformed or not. As you can see, life prolonging care is a very personal decision and one that should be as detailed as possible to ensure that your wishes are followed correctly during every stage of care.
Creating your Living Will or Advance Health Care Directive
A lawyer is not needed in the creation of the Living Will or directive, though some people do choose to use one. This aspect is completely up to you and your personal preference. When creating a Living Will it is necessary to follow your home state’s form guidelines as each state has a different set of rules and forms. Generally you’ll be able to find the needed forms for free at local senior centers, some senior communities, from your doctor, the state’s medical association, a local hospital, local Hospice organization and from The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Once you received the form/s needed, your next step is to fill out all of the sections in detail. Then all you’ll need to do is sign the papers and have it either witnessed or notarized. Keep in mind that some states require Living Will to be both witnessed and notarized. As you can see the actual filling out of the form is fairly easy, the difficult part is all of the decisions that you need to make regarding what care is to be given.
What to do with your Living Will
Once your living will has been created and signed, you’ll want to take the proper measures to keeping it safe and in-tact. The best way to do this is to create several hard copies, as well as a few digital copies if you so please, that can be handed out to trusted individuals in your life. Usually, Living Wills are given out to various family members, a personal health care agent, one’s care facility or hospital and all current doctors.
An important thing to remember is that Living Wills, although they do provide guidelines wished upon by the person who wrote the document, can only be followed if your loved ones and professionals in your life know about them. This makes it very important that several copies are handed out so that directions will be followed correctly if you should become incapacitated.
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