What is a Living Will?

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While no one enjoys thinking about their eventual passing, it is necessary to do so from time to time in order to plan for that inevitability. One of the things that we at Bennett Guthrie PLLC recommend everyone does as part of the estate planning process is make a living will. While the terms sound similar, a living will is not the same thing as a last will and testament—the latter kind of will is used to distribute assets and property after death, while a living will is used to state one’s wishes for end-of-life medical care, in case you should become unable to communicate your decisions. In this article, we will provide more detail on how living wills work and go over reasons why you should make one.

What is a Living Will?

How Living Wills Work

As we mentioned above, the purpose of a living will is to specify your wishes regarding end-of-life care, as well as what measures should be taken to try to keep you alive. For instance, it’s very common to state that palliative care (care to decrease suffering) should always be given. You can also use your living will to specify when “extraordinary measures” such as CPR or placing you on a ventilator should be taken, or under what circumstances you should be taken off life support.

Why You Should Make a Living Will

Our team strongly encourages all of our clients to make a living will for a number of reasons. The first reason is because having this document in place allows you to preserve your agency in the event that you become incapacitated–even if you can’t communicate your wishes in the moment due to an illness or injury, the decisions you laid out in your living will will still be respected. The second reason is because having a living will spares your loved ones from having to make those agonizing judgment calls themselves, protecting them from a great deal of unnecessary pain and potential guilt.