Assuming your working life starts at 20 and ends at 65, the average American spends a surplus of 90,000 hours of their life at work. People work these hours to earn money to live – the last thing many people think about is having a living will drawn up by an estate planning lawyer. In fact, nearly two thirds of Americans do not have living wills.
A living will is a legal document that expresses your wishes in the unfortunate event that you are incapacitated in a vegetative state. In the situation that you are not able to communicate yourself, a living will expresses the type of medical and surgical treatment that you want. More specifically, it pre-records your decision for life prolonging medical treatment or surgical procedures to be continued, withheld, or withdrawn entirely. Medicine’s ability has developed to a point where the body can be kept alive without regard to brain function. This has led to a conflict between health care providers and families of patients in an incapacitated state. Due to this conflict, the U.S Supreme Court recognizes a patient’s rights to refuse life sustaining treatment, as long as it is expressed in written form in a legal document.
A living will can also be referred to as an advance directive for healthcare, a power of attorney for healthcare, a declaration for medical treatment, or a health care proxy. A living will goes hand in hand with a power of attorney. This person is a named agent who has the authority to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. The specifics of the agent’s role are specified in the living will. It can identify specific behavior, or give the agent to act in your best interest.
Any physician who refuses to respect the will must transfer the patient to a physician or hospital that will. A living will exempts physicians who follow them from civil or criminal liability under the condition that the care directives comply with medical standards.
The best way to create a living will
The requirements for writing a living will can vary from state to state. That alone should be enough reason to hire a lawyer to help prepare your living will in line with your state’s regulations. A living will can be revoked or changed at any time, but takes effect as soon as it is signed, or when the individual is unable to communicate their wishes. Hiring an attorney will take you through the process of writing your living will so that each potential condition is specified.
An attorney will help you draw up a living will that meets your state’s requirements. This includes abiding by state legislation, how it must be signed, and the appropriate witnesses for the living will to be valid. Small clauses, tiny details or a misplaced comma can be a very expensive mistake. The various requirements and formalities that change from state to state can easily be overlooked. For this reason, it is best to get a lawyer to help you draft your living will.