Everyone has heard of the last will, and a lot of people have heard of living trusts. As a result, there can be some confusion with regard to the living will. A living will has nothing to do with the transfer of financial assets. This type of will is an advance directive for health care.
Life Sustaining Measures
In your living will you state your preferences regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures. If you were to become incapacitated and unable to communicate while in a terminal condition, would you want to be kept alive indefinitely through the use of artificial means? These life-sustaining measures would include artificial nutrition and hydration, resuscitation, and/or mechanical respiration.
You can answer this question when you create your living will.
Consequences of Interaction
If you do not have a living will in place, your health care agent, if you have appointed one, would be asked to make the decision on your behalf if it became necessary; if you have not legally appointed a health care agent, a court usually will appoint one for you. This is not the type of decision that should be left in the hands of someone else. Even if your next-of-kin was reasonably comfortable with his or her decision, there can always be lingering doubts, because we are talking about a life-and-death choice.
In addition to the fact that you would be putting someone that you love in a very difficult position, there is the matter of possible disagreements among your loved ones. The case of Terri Schiavo that was in the news a number of years ago is often used to underscore the importance of a living will.
Ms. Schiavo did not have a living will in place when she fell into a vegetative state after suffering from cardiac arrest. She was in the state for around eight years as she was being kept alive through the utilization of artificial hydration and nutrition.
At that point, her husband decided that she would have wanted to allow nature to run its course. Her parents did not feel as though this was the right decision. Acrimony ensued, and the matter wound up in court.
After much wrangling the life-sustaining measures were ultimately removed. However, all of the legal struggles could have been avoided if a living will have been executed in advance.
This case is instructive on another level. Terri Schiavo was still in her 20s when she experienced the cardiac episode. We have no way of knowing for sure, but she may have assumed that she did not need a living will because she was so young.
In fact, you never know what the future may hold. A living will is important for adults of all ages.
Free Report on Advance Directives
To learn more about advance directives for health care, download our special report. This report is being offered free of charge, and you can obtain access through this link: Advance Directive Report.