A Living Will

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Occasionally in the news we will hear about someone well known who, when seriously ill or injured refused "heroic measures" and received only palliative (comfort-easing) care at their home, hospital or other health care facility. Perhaps we have even witnessed how this decision has come to fruition with our own family members or loved ones, as measures taken previously determined the extent of the medical care they would receive when they encountered a life threatening illness or accident. These people retained control over their final medical care through use of a living will and a health care power of attorney.

Perhaps you've reflected on your own wishes if you were to face a similar situation. Although no one likes to imagine the possibility of being in such a helpless state, the statistical possibility of such an event remains fairly high. This is why it's wise to ensure that your wishes will be respected if you become incapacitated.

Just as a will becomes the governing entity for your estate after you die, a living will will make your wishes clear and legally binding in the event of a devastating illness or injury. A living will is often referred to as a health care power of attorney. In it you state how you should be treated in the event of a terminal disease, severe illness, or tragic accident. By giving such directions when you are healthy, your relatives won't have to make difficult decisions on your behalf, and you'll receive the type of care you desire.

Issues you might want to consider covering are:

To carry out your living will, you'll need a health care directive, a written statement that expresses how you wish to be treated in advance of any incapacity. Make sure you're exacting and give comprehensive directions.

You'll also need a health care proxy, a person you designate to make your health care decisions based on the guidelines you provide in the directive, if you are incapacitated or unable to communicate your desires.

Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary therefore, the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.