A common misunderstanding is that a Living Will is a legal document that states who will get all of your property after your death. However, that is not a Living Will. There is a big difference between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament. A Living Will is usually put in place in conjunction with your other disability legal documents including your Health Care Power of Attorney and Financial Power of Attorney. In basic terms, a Living Will states your wishes when it comes to the withdrawal and withholding of life support if you would ever be in a terminal medical condition of which you would not recover. This legal document would state, for example, that should you be in an irreversible medical condition, that you would want all life support systems to be withdrawn.
There are extremely important reasons to have a Living Will:
- A Living Will states your specific wishes when it comes to the withdrawal or the continue use of life support systems if you suffer from an irreversible medical condition of which you would never recover.
- A Living Will lists the name of one or more individuals who your medical care providers should attempt to contact before carrying out your wishes listed in your Living Will.
- A Living Will states, with specificity, your desire when it comes to organ donation at your death.
- A Living Will states your wishes when it comes to the use of experimental medical treatment should you be in a life threatening medical condition.
- A Living Will prevents you from lying in a hospital bed for many years to come should you suffer from a severe medical condition or a persistent vegetative state.
- Having a Living Will in place will prevent your family from having to go to court to have a guardian named over you in order to make the decision regarding the withdrawal of life support systems.
- Having a Living Will in place will prevent fights between your family members on who should be named guardian over you and will ensure that your wishes regarding your medical care are followed.
It should be emphasized that without a living will in place your wishes may not be followed when it comes to the continued use or withdrawal of medical care and life support systems. In addition, it could result in a fight between your family members that may end up being aired out in the public court system.