When you are engaged in the process of estate planning, you are going to arrange for the eventual transfer of your monetary assets. This is often done through the execution of a last will and testament or a trust. The last will that is used to transfer assets is not the only type of will that exists. There is another type of will called a living will.
The living will is an important estate planning document to have. A comprehensive estate plan will include and prepare for the period of time that will precede your death. This involves the execution of advance health care directives. A living will is one of these advance health care directives and plans for the situation when death is imminent and there is no reasonable likelihood of recovery.
You could become unable to communicate late in your life. In many instances doctors can keep people alive who are in terminal conditions through the utilization of artificial life support measures. If you cannot communicate your decisions with regard to the use of life-support, how should the doctors proceed?
You can provide the answer to this question by executing a living will. In the living you will express your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures. Once you have a living will in place, the medical community will follow your instructions and your loved ones will know your wishes. You can rest assured that your choices will be honored if you were to become incapacitated and unable to communicate.
If you do not have a living will in place and you become unable to communicate medical decisions, physicians would be forced to seek answers from your closest legal relatives. On a personal level, this is a very difficult position to put someone in.
One of the possible negative consequences of inaction could be the relative making a decision that you would not have made yourself. In addition to this, you may be inviting serious disagreements among your family members.
A real-life example exists that is often used to explain the type of situation that can ensue if you do not have a living will in place. A number of years ago a woman who was in her 20’s named Terri Schiavo fell into a vegetative state after suffering full cardiac arrest. Her parents were still living and she was married. Schiavo did not execute a living will.
After a number of years, her husband wanted the doctors to remove the feeding tubes that were keeping Schiavo alive. Convinced that there was no hope of recovery, he felt as though this was the course of action that she would have preferred. Her parents disagreed. Legal actions were initiated. The case was all over the news for an extended period of time. Eventually the artificial nutrition and hydration devices were removed. However, there was a great deal of acrimony between the interested parties. It could have been avoided if a living will had been executed in advance.
This case demonstrates the fallout that can come about if you do not have a living will in place. It also underscores the importance of advance planning for people of all ages. You never know what the future holds. Individuals of all ages encounter catastrophic circumstances each and every day. Some people suffer from unexpected medical conditions, and others are injured in accidents. While you are certainly going to hope for the best, you should be prepared for any and all eventualities that may befall you, regardless of your age.
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You may not be aware of all of the important documents that would typically be included in a well constructed estate plan. This is understandable, and we are available to you if you would like to obtain a foundation of very useful information. We offer free estate planning workshops that are found to be educational, informative and easy to understand.