Most people understand what a will is. But how is that different from a living will? In short, both are equally essential documents that everyone should draft during the estate planning process.
What is a living will?
A living will is a legal document that allows an individual to spell out the medical treatments that they’d want their doctors to carry out if they couldn’t vocalize those themselves.
What details might you want to include in your living will?
One detail that you’ll want to include in your living will is what you’d like to happen if your heart stops or you experience labored breathing. You’ll want to specify whether you’d expect doctors to place you on a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) machine or ventilator in these instances and for how long.
You may also want to detail your preferences related to organ or tissue donation in your living will. You’ll want to be clear about how long you’d consent to receive life-sustaining care necessary to harvest your organs. You may use a living will to spell out your preference to donate your body to science, as well.
Many individuals who draft living wills use them to clarify their preferences regarding how aggressively they want doctors to treat an infection or other illness. They may spell out that what type of drugs they’re okay with doctors using or if they want them to use a stand-off approach instead. A person’s preferences for receiving palliative care may also be an appropriate topic for someone to address in their living will. You may want to spell out your desire to return home to live out your final days in such a document.
You may also want to use your living will to address your preferences related to being placed on a stomach tube should a feeding disorder develop or a dialysis machine should your kidneys fail you.
How can you ensure that all your bases are covered in a living will?
Countless inexpensive online programs exist that promise to help you draft a California will and other legally-binding documents. You don’t want to take chances with what happens with your property or your health, though. An attorney can draft estate planning documents that will stand up in a San Jose court of law.