A living will is a document you prepare that informs your family and health care professionals, in writing, what medical treatment you want to have under certain circumstances. At Springer & Lyle, our estate planning attorneys can assist you in preparing this document.
Why You Need a Living Will
If you become unable for any reason, whether from an illness or an accident, to make your own health care decisions, your living will gives instructions to medical professionals of how you want your health care to be managed. This is different than a durable power of attorney. That document gives a person you trust the power to make decisions on your behalf.
A living will specifies your own wishes and instructs health care professionals how to carry out your wishes. Legally, health care professionals must follow your instructions. This makes it easier for your family members to accept the care that is provided to you because the care is done according to your own specifications.
Another benefit is since you are the one who left the instructions, it can be a great relief to family members: they don’t have to guess about your desires or feel guilty about making a decision. Additionally, family members cannot interfere. They cannot get mad at one person making decisions for you because you are the decision-maker. They cannot get mad at health care professionals because they are only following your instructions. Health care professionals follow your instructions and interfering family members have no voice in the care and treatment they provide to you.
Living Will Examples
A typical living will includes the language, “If there comes a time that I am unable to make medical decisions about myself because of illness or injury, I direct that the following treatment preferences be honored….”
You may be very specific about the treatment you would accept or deny if you were able to make decisions for yourself.
Some examples of medical treatment you can specify include:
- Whether you would want a feeding tube inserted. You can explain in your living will under what circumstances that would be okay with you and circumstances under which you do not want that action to be taken.
- Whether you wish to be placed on a respirator to prolong your life.
- Whether you will accept a blood transfusion. You can leave instructions about the circumstances that action would be okay or when you would refuse it.
- Whether you want to be resuscitated if you go into cardiac or pulmonary arrest.
This is far from a complete list. Attorney Aubry Dameron at Springer & Lyle can guide you through the process of drafting a living will and discussing with you all the things you may want to have included. Contact her at 940.387.0404 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.