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This article is going to cover everything you need to know about a living will.
We’re covering things about living wills like:
So, let’s dig in.
A living will is also called an advance directive.
A living will lets people state their wishes for their end-of-life medical care.
It specifies the type of medical care that a person does or does not want.
Living wills are especially useful in the event that you cannot communicate your wishes.
For example, if you get into a car accident and go into a coma.
You would be unable to tell the doctors what type of medical treatment you prefer.
So, they are free to do as they see fit.
These decisions that doctors make for you could go against your religion, values, desires.
Let’s look at the case of an unconscious person who suffers from a terminal illness.
Doctors will consult a living will to determine if the patient wants life-sustaining treatment.
This could be assisted breathing or a feeding tube.
If there is no living will, medical decisions are made by the:
If it’s an emergency situation, or no family is present, the doctors will make the decisions.
The definition of a living will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires for medical treatment.
Living wills get used when the person is no longer able to express informed consent.
A living will is a document allowing you to die rather than be kept alive.
But it only gets references if you are disabled beyond a reasonable expectation of recovery.
A living will is a legal document.
It informs doctors and medical caregivers what medical care you want.
Living wills get used when you are unable to communicate your desires.
This could be due to an accident, severe illness, dementia, or a coma.
It also guides your family on how to make decisions about your end of life.
Maybe you told your family you don’t want to be in a vegetative state.
But they cannot bring themselves to execute your wishes.
A living will gives the doctors the proper guidance you’d want them to have.
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The cost of a living will is not as high as a normal will.
Normal wills cost more because you’re doing estate planning.
And this can be a lot more complex.
With a living will, you’re only determining what medical treatments you want if you’re incapacitated.
The cost of a living will ranges from $350 – $1,000.
How much does a living will cost depends on several things, like:
You can get a living will three different ways:
If you make a living will by yourself, it’ll cost about $100 to get one.
If you have an attorney review your living will, then you’ll spend about $350-$500.
If you have an attorney create your living will, then you’ll spend about $1,000.
Let’s go over how to make a living will.
Before you write a living will, you need to determine what medical decisions to include.
Your living will can address decisions like:
No matter how prepared you are, your living will may not cover your emergency situation.
In this event, it’s smart to have a medical power of attorney.
This person will be able to make medical decisions on your behalf.
They will be the point of contact for your medical team.
And they can make decisions on situations not covered in your living will.
Every state has its own requirements for a living will.
But every state requires that you have two witnesses when you sign it.
And they want it to get notarized too.
It’s a good idea to store your living will with your other estate planning documents.
You should keep these in a safe.
This can prevent the loss of documents due to theft, fires, or forgetting their location.
Wherever you store them, it’s important to inform someone how to access them.
That way, they can give the living will to your doctors.
Other places to consider storing your living will are:
Wherever you store it, someone you trust should know how to access it.
So, when does a living will go into effect?
A living will goes into effect when your doctor determines you are incapacitated.
A person is considered incapacitated if they are no longer:
When you’re deemed incapacitated, your doctor certifies this fact in writing.
At this point, your living will goes into effect.
And your doctor will start making medical decisions based on your living will.
Related: How To File A Will
Living wills often get confused with many other legal documents.
Let’s cover the main legal documents that are similar, but different, to living wills.
The main difference between a will and a living will is their function.
A last will directs the distribution of assets after someone passes away.
A living will gives direction for medical care in the event of incapacitation.
What’s the difference between a living will and trust?
They both give direction in the event that you become incapacitated.
But they give direction on different aspects of your life.
A living trust covers three phases of your life.
These phases are while you’re:
A living trust will hold your property in the name of the trust.
And you can manage the property by naming yourself the Trustee.
You can also name beneficiaries to take over the trust when you pass away.
All that a living will does is give guidance on the medical attention you want.
Related: Disadvantages Of A Trust
There is no real difference between a living will vs advance directive.
They both accomplish the same outcome.
There is a major difference between a living will and power of attorney.
A living will give a patient’s medical team direction in the event of incapacitation.
A power of attorney gives another individual the authority to make decisions on your behalf.
There are many uses for a power of attorney.
They can give someone authority to make decisions for you on:
Power of attorney usually goes into effect if someone becomes incapacitated.
There is also a medical power of attorney.
Which allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
This differs from a living will because a:
A healthcare proxy gives authority to make medical decisions to someone else.
While a living will gives explicit direction to the medical team.
The healthcare proxy makes medical decisions on your behalf.
But it may not be the exact direction you want them to take.
For example, you don’t want to be on life support.
But your children cannot make that decision and decide to keep you on life support.
In this case, a living will would be a better option.
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This website is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. Consult an attorney if you are seeking legal advice.