What is a Living Will?
One of the questions that we get a lot with regard to estate planning is that of a living will. Unfortunately, this isn’t always as easy as it seems. Many people are confused as they think that a living will is similar to a Last Will and Testament. Guess what? It’s not. This is probably because of all the confusion when it comes to revocable trusts. One of the other terms for a revocable trust is “Living Trust.” So, it would stand to assume that many people believe that the other term for a will is “living will,” but that is just not the case.
Ok, so what is a living will and how is it different from a regular will?
A Living Will is a document that allows you to determine how your end of life care is determined. This is different from a regular will, which only operates upon your death. A regular will passes your possessions to your heirs, as well as determines who you want taking care of your children.
A living is only effective while you are still living. Specifically, it is a document whereby you direct others on how you want to have any life prolonging medical treatments administered.
When we draft a Living Will, we usually have a discussion as to whether our clients actually want a living will. Many times, after we discuss the pros and cons, they decide that they do not want to have a living will. Actually, they usually decide that a living will is a good idea, but later on in life.
Pros to a Living Will
The benefits of a living will is that your loved ones do not have to see you suffer in any end of life situations. Instead of having to watch your daily pain, they can point to the terms of your living will and end all nourishment so that your suffering will cease. Also, the substantial cost of this end of life care can be avoided so that you can peacefully end your life on your terms.
Cons to a Living Will
Your family may not actually agree with the terms of your living will. They may not care about the costs and may not be prepared to allow you to die. Instead, the living will can be contested, which causes pain all the way around. The other cons is that a medical group may not abide by the terms of a living will – or at least not immediately. Many doctors are afraid of ending a patient’s life sustaining medical treatment – even if there is a living will. They are afraid of any legal consequences.
A living will is a great tool for determining how you want to be care for in any end of life situations. However, this should not be confused with a regular will. Also, you need to be sure that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to a living will and that your doctor will actually abide by its terms.