A living will enables you to specify which types of life-sustaining and end-of-life care you want when you cannot speak for yourself. Sometimes called an advance directive, a living will is usually combined with a health care power of attorney, which allows you to name an agent who can make decisions about your medical treatment should you become incapacitated. Both of these vital documents can give you and your family peace of mind. Having a wills and trusts lawyer help you draft them helps to ensure all important details are included.
Creating Your Living Will
Before drafting a living will, consider the circumstances in which you would want to forego life-sustaining care. Would you want treatment that extends or saves your life in any situation? Are there specific situations in which you would not want care such as CPR, a ventilator, or a feeding tube? Some of the most common end-of-life options include:
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – This procedure restarts your heart if it has stopped beating. It may be done manually or by using an electrical device that stimulates the heart.
Mechanical ventilation – Think about whether you would want to be placed on a mechanical ventilator if you are unable to breathe on your own. If so, for how long?
Feeding tube – If you’re unable to eat and drink, a feeding tube provides fluids and nutrients through an IV or tube in the stomach. Would you want to receive nutrition and fluid in this manner? For how long?
Dialysis – If your kidneys cease to function, dialysis manages fluid levels in your body and removes waste from your blood. Again decide whether you would want this treatment and for how long.
Antibiotics and antiviral medications – Sometimes, people who are very ill need antibiotics or antivirals to treat the infection. Would you want to receive these medications or would you prefer to let an infection run its course? Make sure to specify this in your living will and health care power of attorney.
Palliative care – Also known as comfort care, palliative care is used to manage pain and keep a patient comfortable. In addition to specifying whether you would want pain medications, you can state whether you prefer to pass away at home and avoid invasive tests or treatments.
Organ donation – You can also specify whether you wish to donate any organs or tissues for donation after you die. If you opt to donate your organs, you will need to receive life-sustaining treatment until the donation procedure is complete. Stating that you understand that this temporary intervention is necessary can help your healthcare agent and loved ones avoid confusion.
Scientific study – If you want your body to be donated for scientific study, you can specify this in your living will. If you have a specific organization or program in mind, make sure to name it.
Your Estate Planning Attorney Ensures your Living Will is Legally Sound
Lawyers for wills and trusts are well-versed in creating living wills and ensure that all legal requirements are met to adhere to the law. Our local lawyers for wills provide comprehensive estate planning services in West Chester, PA, and can help you create a plan that protects your interests and ensures your wishes are clearly stated.