I was recently speaking from one of my clients from the Nashville, Tennessee area, and they asked me whether it was important to have a Living Will and/or an Advanced Healthcare Directive. This client had heard from the news that it might be better not to have this legal document.
I answered an emphatic, YES! It is exteremly important to have an Advanced Health Care Directive / Living Will! An Advanced Healthcare Directive, commonly referred to as a Living Will, is a legal document that states what your final wishes will be when it comes to the withdraw and withholding of life support systems. For example, if you wish to have a feeding tube and artificial breathing machines removed should be in an irreversible medical condition of which you will have zero chance to recover, this is where you would state your wishes. In addition, the Living Will can state your wishes when it comes to organ donation, as well as the authorization of experimental medical treatment.
I explained to this client that without an Advanced Healthcare Directive / Living Will should something happen to you, and you be in this irreversible medical condition, your surviving family would have to make the decision for you. I explained, in my experience, family members have a very difficult time making this decision, and have a hard time letting go, even when that is the right thing to do. I also explained that in addition to the Advanced Healthcare Directive / Living Will, you should also have a Healthcare Power of Attorney, which is a document naming some one to make healthcare decisions for you should you become incapable of doing so yourself.
If you have questions about Advanced Healthcare Directives / Living Wills, Healthcare Power of Attorneys, or Estate Planning in general, please contact our office to schedule an in office consultation. Also, if you are just starting the process of thinking about estate planning, a good place to start would be to attend one of our educational seminars and download one of our special legal reports on estate planning here on the website.
If you have questions, please contact us, we are always here to help!
P.S., if you have not updated your Living Will since 2010, it would be best to do so. Given the law changes since 2010, many Living Wills are out-of-date.
Daniel A. Perry