Living wills, also known as advanced directives, are documents that determine end-of-life care if an individual is unable to communicate their wishes or desires. These differ from a last will and testament that leaves property to loved ones. Establishing a living will is an important piece of estate planning and will guide family members and medical staff in the event of a serious medical condition or emergency.
If someone does not have a living will established, a senior’s wishes may be ignored and family members may end up in a dispute about what to do instead of helping their loved ones through a difficult time.
What You Need to Include in a Living Will
A living will includes wishes for both palliative care and extraordinary medical measures. Palliative care requires medical staff to make decisions based on easing pain and suffering, and is typically performed either in hospice or in a hospital setting. A “Resuscitate” or “Do Not Resuscitate” order is established for medical personnel to accompany this depending on the wishes of your loved one.
Extraordinary measures may include CPR and other life-saving measures using artificial life support under certain circumstances. Living wills commonly establish when and when not to use extraordinary measures on an individual. Some living wills also include the person’s wishes for organ donation or autopsy.
Determining Power of Attorney for a Living Will
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a document paired with a living will that appoints one person to make medical decisions based on the advanced directive, along with financial decisions for the loved one. The power of attorney is released of their duties once the individual passes and their final requests, like organ donation, are attended to.
By establishing a living will, you can make decisions for your future care to ensure they are carried out should you become unable to communicate your wishes. For guidance on your living will and establishing durable power of attorney, please call us at (678) 738-0056.