A common misunderstanding we face is about living wills. Because it has the name “will” in it, people sometimes think its about their debts and assets. But that is not the case. Sometimes people get it confused with a living trust, which is another name for a revocable trust. But its not that either.
A living will is a document that tells your family and your doctors what you want to happen at the end of your life. It tells them your choices for if you are in a coma or if you have a terminal illness. A living will comes into effect only when you are not able to understand what is going on around you, and you’re not able to communicate your wishes to others. If you are able to communicate and engage with others in a meaningful way, your living will is not used.
Additionally, two doctors have to certify in writing that you are in a terminal condition, that they ahve done what they can, and that you are not likely to survive. Once that has occured, then they will follow your end of life directives (which is the correct term) in the living will.
You have several choices to make when you do your living will:
- Do you want to be kept alive by artifical means after the doctors have certified that you are at end of life? If yes, for how long?
- Do you want to receive artificial nutrition and hydration?
- Do you want your power of attorney to have the final say, or do you want the doctors to have that final say?
- Who do you want to be able to talk to your medical team at the end of your life?
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