Q. What is a Living Will?
A living will is also known as an “advance health directive” and is a legal document that informs your loved ones and doctors what you want to happen in case you are unable or become incapacitated. This includes decisions regarding your medical care, especially at the end. A living will, which is a list of the medications and treatments you want to prolong your life, should you be unable or unwilling to talk with doctors about these matters.
There are many types of wills when it comes to estate planning. Most people associate a “last will & testament” with estate planning. But, you might also have heard of a living will. While both terms refer to important legal documents that are used in estate planning, their purpose and how they work are very different.
A living will can include instructions regarding your medical care. It can also describe the food you prefer and who can visit you at the hospital. Below are more details about the decisions and scenarios that a living will addresses. You can, for example, make certain decisions in your living will. For instance, you can say when and if you want life support to be discontinued if you need it. Or whether you want nutrition and hydration to prolong your life.
What is an Advance Directive? How are they different from a Living Will?
A “Advanced Directive” and “Advance Healthcare Directive” are two terms that refer to legal documents related to your healthcare needs. An advance healthcare directive typically includes a living will that outlines your wishes for your medical care and a medical power. This will allow you to name the people who will make decisions on your behalf and give them authority to speak with your medical team.
Living Will vs. Last Will & Testament
Last will and testament can be used to make sure your assets are distributed in the manner you prefer upon your death. Your will does not deal with your assets and only applies to your death. A living will, on the other hand, is about you and your assets. It operates in the event that your incapacity occurs, not your death. A living will, on the other hand, tells people how you want your medical treatment to be managed while you’re still alive.
Medical power of attorney
A medical power is a part of an advance directive that allows you name someone, called your “agent,” who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to do so yourself. A medical power of attorney in Alabama is an advance directive that names someone who can make decisions regarding healthcare for you in the event of your death. However, a living will describes how you should handle your medical care.
This is a critical point to remember: Not all living will templates or forms include a medical power-of- attorney. Or the appropriate legal authorizations to allow your agent (or anyone else) to make decisions on your behalf) and access your medical records. If you’re completing an online living or advance healthcare directive or supporting a family member, ensure that the document legal names a decision maker with at least two backup decision makers, grants that person legal authority to access your medical records under HIPAA, and provides detailed instructions about how to provide your medical care in the event that you become incapacitated.
Why is a Living Will so Important?
Your family will be forced to guess the treatment you want. Without a living trust, your loved ones will feel guilt and stress over the decisions made on your behalf. Your immediate family could end up fighting over your medical care in the worst case.
A living will, for example, can be used to guide your agent if you are seriously ill or are unable to take your own medical treatment. It’s the medical power-of-agent section of the document that determines who should make the decisions. Medical power of attorney and living will often work together in this way. Sometimes, these two documents are combined to create one document.
Alabama Living wills are an essential part of any adult’s estate plan. They can help ensure that your medical treatment is done exactly as you wish, in the unlikely event that you are unable to communicate your wishes and needs. A living will can also prevent conflict and unnecessary stress from your loved ones during difficult times.
Even Young People Need A Living Will
While you might think that only seniors or the elderly need a living will, it is possible to have a serious accident or illness at any time. This would render you unable or unable communicate your wishes for medical treatment. Its reccomeded that all adults over 18 years old should have a living will and a power of attorney.
The Living Will – Decisions and scenarios
Some of the most commonly encountered decisions, treatments, or scenarios that you will encounter in your daily life.
Mechanical ventilation and intubation: If you are unable to breathe, you can indicate if you want to be placed on a ventilator and how long. This is especially important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Intubation involves placing patients in a medically induced state and inserting a tube through your windpipe. The tube will allow oxygen to flow directly to your lungs via a ventilator.
Tube feeding instructions: You are able to include instructions on how and for what length of time you want tube feeding to be used to provide you with the nutrients and fluids you need to prolong your life.
Resuscitation: CPR & DNR: You can include what is known as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), order in your living will. You can also include a DNR order in your living will.
Organ/Tissue donation: You can indicate in your living will that you wish to donate organs or tissues after your death. You will likely be provided with life-sustaining care until your organs or tissues are removed.
Palliative and pain management: These instructions will tell you what pain management medication you would like to have prescribed. They also explain if you prefer to die at home.
Are You able to do it yourself with an online living will?
Although you can find many generic living wills and medical powers of attorney online, it is not recommended that you rely on these DIY solutions to address critical decisions. You have specific needs and wishes when it comes to medical treatment and end of life care.
We have processes that will keep you on track and move beyond procrastination to get them signed. This is because good intentions won’t protect your family from court or conflict if you become incapacitated.
A Comprehensive Plan For Incapacity
In Alabama medical powers of attorney and Living wills are only two of the legal documents that you need to plan for incapacity. To have a comprehensive incapacity planning plan, you will likely also need to use other estate planning strategies like a durable power of attorney or a revocable trust. Estate planning is more than just planning for death.
You should schedule a Family Wealth Planning meeting immediately if you haven’t yet created your incapacity plans. We, as your Personal Family Lawyer, can help you determine the best planning . We can also review any incapacity plans you have, even if they were created by another lawyer.
Get in touch with our Alabama Estate Planning lawyers today to start. Proper estate planning in (AL) will keep your family safe from conflict, the courts, and the public eye. Contact us if you are ready to make a comprehensive estate plan. We will review your existing plan and help you update it to avoid any heartache for your family.