A living will ensures that you dictate your end-of-life decisions in the event you lose the capacity to do so. This means you will only receive the medical treatment you wish to have, and hopefully — it will ease stress on family members as they will not have to make medical decisions on your behalf.
A living will is a document separate from your traditional will, which often names guardians of your minor dependents, beneficiaries and executors.
In your living will, you may include end-of-life medical decisions such as:
- The type of medical treatment you do or do not want to receive; for example, surgeries, the use of a ventilator, CPR
- Food and water — do you want the use of a feeding tube?
- Palliative care — do you want pain management?
Each state has different requirements for completing a living will. If you completed a living will in Maryland, but recently moved to Pennsylvania, you may want to adjust it to meet Pennsylvania’s requirements.
An attorney can help you to complete a living will that meets Pennsylvania’s requirements, and once completed, it can be shared with your medical providers and close relatives.
What are the benefits of healthcare and financial powers of attorney?
Similar to a living will, a medical or healthcare power of attorney is a legal document to ensure your wishes are followed when you are deemed incapacitated (or in other words, unable to think clearly). Unlike a living will, however, a power of attorney names a person or people who will make decisions on your behalf.
The person chosen could be a spouse if he or she is living, a son or daughter or another person whom you trust. More than one person may be listed. For example, if you have three children, all three children may be listed to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. If you have no close relatives, then a neighbor, a lifelong friend, a fellow church member or a third-party professional fiduciary may be named.
What’s most important is that you find the person or people to be trustworthy. Even if your daughter is a professional medical provider, if you don’t trust her, do not move forward with listing her as a healthcare power of attorney.
In addition to a healthcare power of attorney, you should also consider a financial power of attorney. This will name a person or people who can make decisions regarding your finances should you become incapacitated. These decisions may include selling your home, paying taxes or protecting your assets from long-term care.
Say, for example, you need to be placed into an assisted living facility and you are unable to write a check to place you into that facility. If you have someone listed as a financial power of attorney, he or she will be able to write the check on your behalf.
If you need help preparing a living will and/or powers of attorney, contact our experienced Estate Planning team today.