Every day doctors and nurses resuscitate patients from impending death in emergency rooms throughout the country. Few however stop to consider whether in doing so, they have violated the patients advanced and expressed directive not to be resuscitated. This unfortunate scenario might have been avoided if the patient or family had prepared a living will. In many states this is known as a “Do Not Resuscitate” health care directive.
Ensures Testators Intent
A living will not only ensures that your express desires will be followed at the end of your life, but also protects your loved ones from having to make those difficult and intensely personal decisions on your behalf.
Living wills also serve larger social purposes as well– such as saving billions of dollars in unnecessary and unwanted end-of-life care costs. While advance directives is not always the best course of action, it can substantially reduce the cost of medical care for all dying or terminally patients who choose not to have life-sustaining treatments or other types of expensive end-of-life care.
A Living Will Is Not A Will Or Trust
A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. It can also be referred to as an advance directive or health care directive. A living will should not be confused with what is known as a living trust. A living trust is way of preserving persons assets through a legal fiction called a trust, which distributes assets outside of formal probate and usually carries with it an array of possible tax benefits.
Choosing a person to act as your health care agent is an important part of your end-of-life planning. You need to trust that this person will act in your interests and in accordance with your desires. Your health care agent doesn’t need to be a family member. Many people prefer leaving the original with their attorney and one with a family member or loved one. This is sometimes accomplished through a Durable Power of Attorney.
Some of the issues you will likely want covered in your living will includes whether you wish to be resuscitated should your heart fail; whether you would accept artificial ventilation should your breathing stop; or whether you would tolerate dialysis, if you lost the use of both of your kidneys. There are also issues concerning whether you would like to donate any of your organs to science or for the benefit of a worthy medical cause.