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Why Should You Include a Living Will in Your Estate Plan?

Butler Law Nov. 14, 2019

Planning for your future can be a daunting task. When you begin the process, the number of components alone might intimidate you. However, each document included in an estate plan contains crucial information that provides protection for your family’s future. One of these documents is a living will.

What is a living will?

A living will differs from that of a last will and testament. A living will, sometimes called a healthcare directive, is a document where you can express your preferences for medical treatment and leave caregiving instructions should you become unable to communicate these wishes.

Many people are tentative to include a living will in their estate plan because they believe it gives doctors the grounds to withhold treatment even when there is a chance of recovery. However, living wills do not take effect until a doctor deems you unresponsive to further treatment. Instances such as this might include terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness.

What does a living will consist of?

When drafting a living will, your religious, moral and ethical beliefs can help you determine your health care preferences. Most of the time, your decisions will revolve around life-prolonging care such as:

  • Feeding tubes

  • Life support

  • Organ donation

  • Medication administration

  • Surgical operation

  • Do not resuscitate orders

Benefits of a living will

Having a living will as part of your estate plan ensures that caregivers, physicians and family members carry out your instructions exactly as you wish for them to be carried out.

In addition, making decisions concerning your health care can be sad and scary for your family members. There might be conflicting opinions which can create tension and disputes. When you make your wishes known in a living will, your family won’t have to shoulder the burden of making these difficult decisions for you.

Death is inevitable, but life can be unexpected. Including a living will in your estate plan can help you prepare for these unexpected events. While it might be difficult to imagine a scenario where you are unable to think for yourself, a living will can add an extra layer of security to your and your family’s future.