Though thinking about end of life situations is unpleasant for many, it is important to start making decisions while you are healthy. Unfortunately, many people fall ill at the end of their lives, and some of these illnesses can affect their ability to communicate. A living will is a way of putting in writing your desired course of medical treatment in the case of falling too ill to communicate these wishes at the end of your life.
What is a Living Will?
A living will may be referred to by different names based on your location. Other terms for a living will include “healthcare declaration” and “medical directive.” Different names do not change the purpose, however, a living will is meant to guide your medical professionals and your family in your course of treatment in the event that you cannot.
The Importance of a Living Will
Both the Constitution of the United States and case law protect your right to accept or refuse medical treatment, however, you must be considered of sound mind and be physically able to communicate your desires. This protection extends to living wills created prior to your illness progressing to that point. State law may affect what types of treatment are allowed to be permitted by a living will, so it is important to study the laws in your individual state when creating a living will.
Exploring the Differences: Will, Living Will, and Living Trust
The legal definitions may seem confusing, but a will, a living will, and a living trust are all different and important documents to have. A will, also known as a person’s Last Will and Testament, and a living trust deal with matters of finances and property. This is in contrast to a living will, which is relevant to matters of healthcare.
Creating Legal Documentation
A living trust puts the legal ownership of your property in the care of someone you choose, called a beneficiary, and does not rely on you passing away to go into effect. A will is a document created before death that dictates how and where your financial assets and property are to be dispersed in the event of your death.
The creation of both a will and a living can require consultation with a lawyer, as both are complex agreements of legal matters. However, it is still possible to create a living will without the assistance of a lawyer.