If you are over the age of 18 you should have a living will. A living will directive or health care proxy should also be one of the first “to-do” items on your “to-do” list before having surgery.
What is a living will?
A living will is a legal document that specifies what treatments, particularly life-prolonging treatments, you wish to receive or not receive should you become incapacitated and unable to relay your wishes yourself. It is especially important to create a living will prior to having surgery so put it on your to-do list when preparing for surgery.
What exactly does a living will specify?
A living will specifies what life-prolonging treatments, such as whether or not to place you on life support and for how long and whether or not to resuscitate you.
In what instances would I need a living will?
It is always good to have a current, updated living will, particularly when you are preparing for surgery. A living will eases the stress and contemplation your family would endure when faced with making decisions regarding your treatment. Furthermore, it ensures that your treatments are indeed carried out according to your wishes.
How and when are the specifications in a living will executed?
The specifications in your living will would go into effect when your primary physician, and in some states a second physician, deemed you incapable of making decisions for yourself. Your physician would have to declare you permanently unconscious. For example, if you suffer a heart attack or stroke and are resuscitated and expected to recover, your living will would not take effect. It would only take effect if your recovery were considered impossible.
How and where can I get a living will?
Different states have different laws regarding the preparation and execution of living wills, so you should consult with a lawyer in your state when preparing your living will to ensure the legality of it. It is a good idea to consult the same lawyer that you use for your estate planning for the preparation of your living will. You will want to make sure that you keep your living will updated.
You can also find quality legal resources on the Internet today about creating living wills. Advantages and tips on using an online legal service are:
* It is cheaper than hiring a traditional attorney. You will pay anywhere from $39.00 to $79.00 on average to create a living will saving you hundreds of dollars or more over traditional attorney fees.
* Most have easy questionnaire style forms.
* Depending on the legal online service you choose, a document assistant reviews your information making sure you avoid some of the most common errors when creating a living will.
* The living wills are valid in every state (make sure this is the case for the service you choose).
* Depending on the type of account you sign up for, you can update your living will easily and at any time.
* Choose a service where your information remains confidential and secure.
* You will want an official copy mailed to you for your records.
The important thing here is all of us should have a living will and if you create one online – it is quick, it is easy, and it is done!
Where should I keep my living will?
Keep your living will in a safe place, such as an in-home safe or safety deposit box. Disclose to your family and doctor that you have a living will and make sure that someone trustworthy knows where your living will is stored and can access it if necessary.
A living will is never going to be your first choice for conversation but it should always be one of your first considerations before having surgery. Include this simple yet often overlooked step when you prepare for surgery.