Living Will Attorneys Helping Provide Peace of Mind For You and Your Family in Cape Cod
It is a type of advance directive document that spells out the type of medical care an individual wants and doesn’t want at the end of life or in the event they are unable to communicate their wishes. Under these circumstances, doctors can consult a patient’s living will to learn what his or her preferences are in terms of life-sustaining treatment such as life support, tube feeding, and other measures. Without a Living Will, such decisions will be left to a spouse, family member, or third party who may or may not enforce the patient’s wishes.
Is a Living Will Necessary If I Already Have Appointed a Health Care Proxy?
With a Living Will, you are able to have an official written record of your wishes for medical treatment in life-threatening situations. This document will be consulted in the event you are incapacitated.
A Health Care Proxy appoints an agent to make decisions on your behalf. Some states do not allow an agent to speak on behalf of a patient, even if a health care proxy agreement has been signed. For that reason, many people choose to have a Living Will drafted out in addition to appointing a proxy.
Because requirements vary a lot by state, it is recommended you consult the rules for your state to find the correct format for your Living Will. Some states accept a more general form, while others require more detailed information. It is recommended that you have what is called an Advanced Directive, meaning both a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy, as you never know in which jurisdiction you might end up in.
How is a Living Will Different From a Last Will and Testament?
Living wills and last wills deal with completely different things. A Last Will spells out what should happen to your property and assets when you pass away, detailing your wishes about how your estate should be distributed among beneficiaries.
A Living Will does not deal with any property matters; instead, it is a written official document detailing the type of medical care you wish to receive when you are dying or in a life-threatening situation without the ability to speak for yourself. With a Living Will, you can change your mind or cancel it at any time.
Does Having a Living Will Mean I Will Receive No Care?
No, it does not. This is a common misconception many people have. A Living Will spells out your choices for treatment and lets doctors know what you prefer them to do in case you are terminally ill, unconscious or in a life-threatening situation. It does not exclude you from receiving care, it only describes the type of care you wish to receive, and the type of care you do not want to receive.
A doctor is not obligated to honor your living will if his or her personal, religious, or spiritual beliefs do not allow him/her to comply with your wishes, or in a scenario where that is the policy of the hospital or nursing home you are in. In this case, your doctor should help your family locate another doctor or facility that will honor your wishes.
How Do I Make a Living Will? Do I Need An Attorney?
A Living Will must be made in writing, and you will need two adult witnesses in order for it to be deemed valid. The witnesses must affirm that you are of sound mind and signing the will by your own choice. A health care provider or health care employee may not witness your living will, and you cannot witness your own will either.
An attorney is not required in order for you to make your living will. However, if you are unsure about your state’s rules and need assistance understanding certain aspects of writing your will, it is recommended that you seek the help of an attorney that provides such services.
We understand it is hard for most people to think about death and dying, and making plans for such an event can be overwhelming. Our legal team is happy to walk you through each step and simplify the process for you, so you can enjoy life and have peace of mind knowing you have plans in place for your family and for yourself when the time comes.
At Boyd & Boyd, our legal team is well-versed in the areas of elder law and can assist you in drafting your advance directive documents, including your Living Will and Health Care Proxy. Contact us at (508) 775-7800 for a free initial estate planning consultation with one of our attorneys.