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Do you need a living will?

If you are considering your end-of-life wishes as you enter your golden years, or simply because of a life-threatening medical condition, you want to be sure that those you love have very clear directions about how to carry out those wishes.

One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is through a living will. Living wills are a legal document that establishes your end-of-life preferences and may give another person legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself.

Realistically, all people should have some sort of living will, if only for the sake of their loved ones. In a tense moment where someone must make a medical decision for you, your loved ones may not know your wishes if you do not make them known properly. Worse, they may know your wishes and be powerless to enforce them.

If you believe that a living will may fit your needs, don't wait to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a document that clearly expresses your end-of-life preferences and protects your rights. An attorney can help answer all your questions about crafting your living will and how to address your specific needs and concerns.

Why create a living will?

As unpleasant as it is, we all must consider our own mortality. Some of us put this off for too long and then get caught unprepared by tragedy. If you find yourself thinking more and more about your own mortality, or if you just received some concerning medical news, you may want to go ahead and take steps to address this issue sooner than later.

Living wills provide two distinct advantages. First, you can eliminate any questions about certain medical care preferences. These might include whether or not you want medical care professionals to resuscitate you or place you on life support if the time comes to consider those options.

Similarly, if you do not wish to receive organ transplants or blood transfusions for personal reasons, you can indicate these preferences in your living will. Even if you express these preferences orally to someone, a doctor or medical care provider may go against your wishes to save or prolong your life if you do not clearly express you do not want this.

Second, your living will can identify someone you want to give the authority to make decisions on your behalf. This way, someone you love and trust can make these decisions, even if you don't leave specific instructions on your behalf. This is particularly useful because it removes tension around who must enforce your wishes, and it also allows you to put your care in someone else's hands without having to think through every conceivable medical emergency scenario.

If you have any reason to create a living will, don't put it off. You never know when you might need it!

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