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Do I Really Need a Living Will?

Published on August 18th, 2020

Estate Planning Lawyer

Perhaps you already created your last will and testament, but someone said you need more than that. You then created a medical power of attorney, but that wasn’t enough either. An advance directive came next, but everyone kept mentioning a living will. Aren’t they all the same thing? Not exactly. The following explains more in depth.

A Living Will Explained

When you want to make your personal choices known about medical treatment regarding the end of your life, you make a living will. This legal document outlines medications and procedures you would or would not want, supposing you are unable to speak with the doctors performing those procedures or providing the medication. A living will protects you when your anesthesia goes bad during a surgery and you don’t wake up, when you’re in a coma following an accident, or under a variety of other similar circumstances.

The Differences Between Similar-Sounding Documents

There are three documents people often confuse with a living will. These are a last will and testament, an advance directive and a medical power of attorney. The following are some differences.

  • Last Will and Testament – This document goes into depth about how you want your estate handled after you die. It addressed family responsibilities, guardianship for your children and other similar issues. A living will addresses issues regarding your health while you’re still alive.
  • Advance Directive – An advance directive is a collection of documents that could actually include your living will. It also addresses issues regarding end-of-life care and treatment, but will include more than your living will does. It may include a do-not-resuscitate order, instructions about a current illness, your medical power of attorney, instructions about tissue or organ donation, and other similar documents.
  • Medical Power of Attorney – Similar to a living will, your medical power of attorney addresses your healthcare needs. The difference is a living will contains your exact wishes regarding certain things written in a document. A medical power of attorney appoints someone to make those decisions when you are unable to. The person you appoint is called your healthcare proxy, and he or she should be someone who understands your wishes and how you would choose for yourself. The living will overrides the medical power of attorney.

Creating All Your Important Documents

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits of each of these documents, including the living will. Get started with your plan today by contacting an estate planning lawyer, like from the Yee Law Group.

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