Many people do not create a living will for several reasons. For starters, some people believe they are too young to need one. Also, some people do not know enough about the purpose of a living will and aren’t curious enough to find out. Finally, some people do not wish to think about end-of-life issues.
According to a 2020 survey of 2,400 Americans, just six percent of respondents had a living will. The rest of the survey participants either do not know what a living will is or have just been unable to create one. There are many compelling reasons for making an effort to create a living will, regardless of your age or current health. This article will explain The Importance of a Living Will, What It Is, and Why You Need One.
What is a living will?
A living will is a document that states your wishes for medical treatment if you cannot make decisions for yourself. It allows you to state in advance which treatments you do and don’t want and can help ensure that your wishes are carried out even if you can’t communicate them yourself. If you don’t have a living will, your loved ones may have to make difficult decisions about your care when they are already grieving.
Why you need a living will:
There are many reasons why you might need a living will. If you become seriously ill or injured, a living will ensure you receive the medical treatment you want and avoid unwanted interventions. It can also help reduce conflict among your loved ones about what kind of care you should receive. And if you are in a vegetative state or coma, a living will prevent you from being kept alive on life support against your wishes.
What Can You Include in a Living Will?
The purpose of a living will is to record your treatment decisions and preferences in the case of incapacity. The most frequent subjects covered in the document include:
1. Organ and Tissue Donation:
You can use your living will to express your wishes about organ and tissue donation. You can state whether you want to be an organ donor, which organs you wish to donate, and whether you want to donate your body to science.
Organ donation is a personal decision, and there is no right or wrong answer. You may feel strongly about donating your organs, or you may not want to donate them. You may also have mixed feelings and want to donate some organs but not others. Whatever your wishes, it’s essential to make them known in advance so your loved ones can carry out your wishes if you cannot do so yourself.
Resuscitation is a medical procedure that is used to restart your heart and breathing if they stop. It can be done using CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or by using a machine called a defibrillator.
Some people feel they do not want to be resuscitated, while others want every possible measure taken to prolong their lives. You can use your living will to express your wishes about resuscitation so that your loved ones and medical team know what you want if your heart or breathing stops.
3. Medical Treatments:
You can use your living will to express your wishes about which medical treatments you do and don’t want. For example, you may not want to receive dialysis or have a feeding tube inserted if you are in a coma.
Some people also use their living wills to state their preferences regarding pain management. For example, you may want to receive pain medication even if it may shorten your life. Others may not want to receive pain relievers if it means they will be less aware of their surroundings.
Your living will can include as much or as little detail about your medical treatment preferences as you like. The important thing is that you make your wishes known in advance so that your loved ones and medical team can follow them if you cannot communicate them.
4. Life Support:
Life support is a type of medical treatment used to keep you alive when your body can no longer do so on its own. It can include machines such as ventilators, feeding tubes, medications, and other treatments.
Some individuals do not want to be kept alive on life support, but others believe that every feasible action should be taken to extend their life. You can use your living will to express your wishes for life support so that your loved ones and medical team know your desires if you cannot articulate them yourself.
5. Palliative Care and End-of-Life Wishes:
Palliative care is a type of medical care that focuses on relieving the symptoms of a disease rather than curing the disease itself. It can be used to treat any serious illness, but it is often used for terminally ill people.
End-of-life wishes are personal preferences about how you want to be cared for during the end of your life. These can include where you want to die, whether you want to be resuscitated, and what type of funeral or memorial service you would like.
You can use your living will to express your wishes about palliative care and end-of-life decisions. This can be a helpful way to ensure that your wishes are carried out if you are unable to communicate them yourself.
How does a living will work?
If you cannot communicate your wishes, your living will be used as a guide by your doctors and loved ones. They will ensure that you receive the medical treatments you want and avoid those you don’t. You can change or cancel your living will at any time as long as you are still able to communicate your wishes.
Making a living will is critical to guarantee that your preferences are carried out at the end of your life. If you don’t have one, your family may be forced to make tough choices regarding your care. Talk to an estate attorney about creating this vital document. It may turn out to be the most significant choice you ever make.
What happens if you don’t have a living will?
If you did not create a living will and cannot communicate your wishes during an emergency, your loved ones will have to make decisions about your care. This can be a difficult and stressful experience, especially if they are not sure what you would want. They may feel guilty or unsure whether they are making the right decision.
If your loved ones are not available, or if they can’t agree on what you would want, the decision may be left to your doctor. The doctor will make the best decisions based on their medical knowledge and previous discussions about your care, but they may not know everything about your wishes.
Benefits of having a living will.
One of the main advantages of having a living will is that it helps you be at peace, knowing that you and your family are prepared in an emergency or other unforeseen incident. Here are some of the particular advantages of having a living will:
- Appointing a medical power of attorney: A living will let you appoint someone to make decisions about your medical care if you cannot do so yourself. This can be a great comfort to know that there is someone you trust who can make sure your wishes are carried out.
- Preventing arguments among family members: Unfortunately, disagreements about a loved one’s care are not uncommon. A living will help avoid these disagreements by making your wishes clear in advance.
- Reducing the burden of decision-making for caretakers: If you cannot make decisions about your care, your loved ones will be responsible. This can be a difficult and stressful burden to bear. A living will help ease this burden by making your wishes known in advance.
- Refusing any treatments you wouldn’t want: One of the most critical functions of a living will is to ensure that you don’t receive any medical treatments you don’t want. This can include life-sustaining treatments like artificial ventilation or feeding tubes.
- Providing peace of mind, you know you’ll receive the medical care you want: Knowing that you have a say in your medical care can be very reassuring. It can also help ease any fears you may have about being unable to communicate your wishes in a medical emergency.
- Allowing you to arrange for medical care expenses in advance: Living wills can also be used to make arrangements for how you would like your medical care to be paid. This can take a load off your loved ones’ minds during a difficult time.
As you can see, many good reasons exist to have a living will. If you don’t have one, now is the time to talk to an estate attorney about making one. It could be the most critical decision you ever make.
How to make a living will
Making a living will is a relatively simple process. You’ll need to decide who you want to be your health care proxy- this person will make decisions about your medical care if you cannot do so yourself. You’ll also need to decide what treatments you would and would not want to receive. Once you have this information, contact an attorney to help draft a formal document.
It’s essential to keep your living will up to date as your wishes may change over time. You should also make sure that your family and health care agent know its existence and where to find it. In an emergency, every second counts, so it’s important that your loved ones are prepared.
Frequently Asked Question.
While you can technically make a living will without the help of an attorney, it’s not recommended. An attorney can help ensure that your document is executed correctly and meets all legal requirements.
You can always change your living will by drafting a new document. Be sure to destroy the old one, so there is no confusion about your wishes.
In addition to yourself, you should give copies to your health care proxy, your medical professionals, and any other loved ones who might be involved in your care. You should also keep a copy in an easily accessible place, like on your refrigerator or in your wallet.
A POA is a document that authorizes someone to make financial or health care decisions on your behalf. A living will is specifically for medical decisions and nothing else.
A living will only go into effect when you cannot make your own medical decisions. This can be due to an illness, injury, or other condition that affects your mental state.