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Living Will: Planning Your Legacy

Why is it important to have a living will? What are the benefits of creating your own living will? Trust & Will explains what you need to know.

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Do your loved ones know your wishes for medical care and end-of-life decisions? For most people, the answer would be “no.” In our society, sad or uncomfortable discussions aren’t encouraged. In some cases, they’re even considered bad luck. Unfortunately, tragic accidents and sudden illnesses do happen on occasion. By establishing a living will, you can have peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will know exactly what to do if the unimaginable happens. Keep reading to find out how to make a living will, and why it’s important to have one.

What is a Living Will?

A living will is an estate planning document that leaves instructions for medical care and end-of-life decisions. Most estate planning documents deal with the transfer of property upon death. A living will is unique in that it carries out a purpose during someone’s lifetime. Check out our “What is A Living Will” article for further explanation.

What is the Purpose of a Living Will?

The purpose of a living will is to provide loved ones with care instructions to follow in case you’re ever unable to act autonomously. This might happen if you become physically or mentally incapacitated, either through an accident or illness. Common scenarios include terminal illness, comas, and dementia.

Living wills can provide families peace of mind. They know that they’re carrying out your medical care and end-of-life procedures just as you wish. The document should designate which treatments you would and wouldn’t want to be used to maintain your health. It should also include instructions for other decisions, such as organ donation or medications. Additionally, any end-of-life decisions should be included. 

What are the Benefits of a Living Will?

One of the main benefits of a living will is having a peace of mind, knowing that you and your family are prepared in case an emergency or other unexpected event happens. Here are some Nook the specific benefits associated with a living will:

  • Appoints a medical power of attorney

  • Prevents arguments amongst family members

  • Reduces the burden of decision-making for caretakers

  • Refuses any treatments you wouldn’t want

  • Provides peace of mind; you know you’ll receive the medical care that you want

  • Allows you to arrange for medical care expenses in advance

When you create your living will, you’ll designate your Medical Power of Attorney. This individual is someone who will make medical decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so yourself. It’s recommended that you appoint someone that you trust, and someone who can remain relatively strong and level-headed during stressful circumstances. Their responsibility will include working with medical providers to determine your care, per the instructions in your living will.

Without a living will, your loved ones could be unsure of what you would have wanted. They could also have differences in opinion stemming from personal or religious beliefs. Because you’ll have already designated your wishes for medical care, you can also help prevent any arguments that could arise. By stating exactly what you would want to happen, there is no room for debate or guesswork. This helps relieve the burden of difficult decision-making in stressful situations. 

You will also be able to specify any treatments that you specifically don’t want, taking some options completely off the table. Keeping all this in mind, a living trust provides immense peace of mind for you and your loved ones. You know that you’ll receive the medical care that you want, in the case you’re rendered unable to communicate your wishes on your own. Your family members won’t have to guess what you would have wanted. 

Last but not least, living wills give you the opportunity to make arrangements for covering your medical expenses. You could designate what accounts or insurance policies can be used. By doing so, your loved ones won’t be stuck with expensive medical bills. If a living will ever comes into play, that usually means that your family members will already be under duress. Knowing that your medical expenses are covered will bring them some relief.

What Happens If I Don’t Have a Living Will?

In the event that you become physically or mentally incapacitated, in the absence of a living will, medical providers will turn to your closest relatives to make decisions on your behalf. This could include anything from medication, treatments, surgeries, therapies, and even end-of-life decisions. As you might imagine, this can be stressful and burdensome for your loved ones. They will make the best decisions they can, but will likely feel unsure of what you would have truly wanted. This can bring on feelings of immense guilt along while processing grief. 

The absence of a living will also means that your caretakers won’t have a way to pay for your medical bills. Everyone knows how expensive medical bills can be, especially those associated with hospital stays, intensive care, and long-term care. You are potentially exposing your loved ones to a crushing financial burden. 

While it’s hard to think about these types of situations, unexpected events can happen to you no matter your age. This discussion helps to highlight just how much worry and stress can be put on a family in the absence of a proper estate plan. 

How to Make a Living Will

No one wants the need for a living will to arise, but they’re important to have nonetheless. Knowing that all of your medical and end-of-life decisions are already made will provide you and your family with immense peace of mind. Accidents and medical situations arise unexpectedly, and that’s why you shouldn’t wait to set up your estate plan.

If you’re wondering how to make a living will, it’s easy. Trust & Will offers services that guide you through the process of creating a living will through an online platform. We’ll help you go over important questions so that you’re clear on what to include. Visit our Living Will page to start your document today.

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