What is a living will?
Living wills are often a part of a comprehensive estate plan. In fact, they are considered one of the most important components for your plan. Living wills allow you to give your family specific instructions on your medical care and your end-of-life wishes.
Providing these instructions is important for both your family and your health care providers. Without them, there could easily be some confusion as to your treatment decisions should you be unable to make them for yourself. The attorneys at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb have 30 years of experience in estate planning and drawing up living wills. We take the time to listen to your wishes and know how to represent your needs effectively.
Living Wills for Medical Care
Unlike a regular will or a last will and testament, a living will does not address property distribution. Living wills are strictly for giving directives about how you would like your affairs handled while you’re alive if you cannot attend to them due to medical issues. Living wills can be as general or as specific as you like, and they outline the medical treatments you request should they be needed. When drawing up your will, you will be asked to include directions on:
- Life-prolonging/resuscitation care. Your directives for medical treatments like blood transfusions, CPR, defibrillators, dialysis, or surgery.
- Sustenance. Whether or not you want intravenous food and water in the event that you are in a prolonged vegetative state.
- Painkillers. What type of pain management treatment would you like if it became necessary? If you choose not to have life prolonging treatment, how would you like your palliative care managed?
Of course, these decisions are not always easy to make, but deciding on them now can spare your family and health care providers anguish in the long run. This is not an all-inclusive list. You can include any other pertinent medical information.
Living Wills and Medical Power of Attorney
Many people mistakenly assume that living wills and health care power of attorneys are the same when they actually have two very distinct differences and are usually drawn up together as part of an estate plan. A living will outlines your own medical care decisions, while a health care POA gives someone else permission to make those decisions for you. In Arizona, the person you give permission to make medical decisions is called an agent.
This agent is chosen by you and will be responsible for your medical decisions if you are not able to make them. This can include life-prolonging treatments and even end-of-life care. Many times, people who do not have a POA or living will have decisions about their medical treatment handled by a guardian appointed by the court. This is why it’s important to have both documents drawn up, clearly naming an agent and desired medical treatments.
Let Us Assist You With Your Living Will
Living wills and health care POAs are formed together to be used as part of your estate plan. Because they both cover such specific and sensitive matters, it is paramount that you use someone with experience to help draw them up. Your health care decisions are not something you want represented incorrectly or written with room for misinterpretation.
At Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb, we build your living will and POA to work together as part of your overall estate plan. We take the time to listen to our clients needs before creating an individualized and comprehensive plan to cover property, assets, and health care decisions. Our attorneys are experienced in a broad spectrum of practices, though we spend most of our time in family law and estate planning. We know that planning your estate can be confusing and may include some difficult decisions, so let us help you. We will represent your needs with tact, passion, and understanding.