7 Questions About a Living Will Answered
Do you have questions about a living will but don’t know who to ask. Here are the seven most common questions about living wills answered.
Do you know that only 25% of Americans have living wills?
You might think you don't need a living will, while others confuse living wills with last wills and testaments.
If you're preparing to start your estate plan, you may wonder what a living will is and whether you need one.
If you're in this position, you may want to read this guide, as it explains the answers to seven common questions about living wills.
1. What Is the Primary Purpose of a Living Will?
The first question people wonder is, "what is a living will?" You can understand this by learning about the primary purpose.
You may also want to learn the differences between a living will and a living trust, as many people confuse the two as well.
The primary purpose of a living will is to create a plan for your healthcare needs for the future. In addition, a living will controls what medical care and procedures you receive if you ever encounter a life-threatening situation.
Living wills also go by the name "advanced healthcare directive." If you hear this term, it's just another name for a living will.
2. Who Should Have a Living Will?
Another one of the top questions about a living will is who needs one. Does everyone need one? Can you get by without one?
As mentioned above, only 25% of people have them, but most people should have one. As you learn more about living wills, you might decide that living without one is a risk.
A living will provides protection to you and your family. It eliminates the need for your family to make difficult decisions for you. Instead, you decide most things ahead of time.
You may never need to use the living will and its components, but there's also a chance you might.
3. What Are the Main Components in a Living Will?
You can ask a living will lawyer about the components in a living will, and they will likely tell you about two main things:
The Outline of Your Medical Decisions
The first component of a living will is the decisions you make regarding your medical care. We'll discuss this more later, but you will have several vital decisions to make.
Your lawyer will help you learn what these are and your options. Your attorney will include them in your living will, and your family can reference them if needed.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney
The other main component of a living will is a healthcare power of attorney, which you select. This person manages your living will if you ever encounter a situation when you need it.
You must choose someone you trust to handle this position, as they will ensure that the medical staff carries out your wishes. This person has the legal power to enforce your living will when necessary.
4. What Are the Risks of Not Having One?
The next question you might want to ask is about the risks of choosing not to have a living will. Creating a living will is optional.
In other words, it's not a legal requirement. However, choosing not to have one has risks.
If you don't have a living will when you need one, your family will not be able to follow through with your medical and healthcare wishes. They may have to fight to get what they know you wanted.
5. When Does a Living Will Become Effective?
One of the top questions people want to know about living wills is when they become effective. In many cases, people make living wills and never need them. Your living will only becomes effective in certain situations.
If you become unable to make your own medical decisions, your living will takes effect. So for example, if you're in a coma, you wouldn't be able to make decisions.
Another example is if you have a terminal illness and cannot communicate your needs any longer. Your living will also takes effect if you suffer major memory loss.
The purpose is to prepare your decisions ahead of time, so your family can enforce them if you cannot communicate them to the doctors or healthcare workers.
6. What Decisions Do You Need to Make When Creating One?
One of the top questions to discuss is what decisions to include in your living will. Here are some of the main ones.
If your heart stops beating, do you prefer them letting you go or attempting to resuscitate?
If you don't decide this now, the doctors might be required to resuscitate.
You can also decide if you want the healthcare workers to intubate you if you can't eat or drink yourself. Doctors can use intubation to keep a person alive when they are in a coma or unable to eat or drink for other reasons.
A living will also lets you decide if you want the doctors to use a ventilator if you can't breathe on your own. If you don't, make sure you write this on your living will.
Finally, you can use your living will to discuss your organ donation desires. Would you like to donate your organs if you have healthy ones that could help someone? You can decide and include it in your living will.
7. Do You Need a Lawyer to Make One?
Finally, you might wonder if you need a lawyer to make one. The answer is yes. You should hire a lawyer in Chandler, Arizona, when you're ready to start working on your living will.
A lawyer will make sure your living will contains everything it should. They will also help you create other estate planning tools that you might need.
Are You Ready to Create a Living Will for Protection?
As you read through these questions and answers, you may better a living will and how it works. You might also decide that you want to have one for your estate plan.
If you decide to make one, contact us at Citadel Law Firm. We offer all types of estate planning services, including living wills, and we can help you cover all your bases in your estate plan. Call (480)565-8020 to schedule your free consultation, or click here.