While an estate planning lawyer primarily helps you plan for the disposition of your estate and the care of your dependents after your death, some of what an estate planning attorney does has to do with making decisions while you’re still alive. Specifically, your attorney will create your Living Will.
A Living Will, sometimes referred to as an Advance Directive or Advance Healthcare Directive, is a document stipulating your wishes with regard to your personal medical care, should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make care decisions for yourself, or are otherwise incapable of giving informed consent.
What Does A Living Will Do For Me?
A Living Will specifies your desires with regard to medical care. For example, if there are specific circumstances under which you would not wish to continue receiving medical treatment, they would be laid out in your Living Will. If certain forms of treatment are objectionable to you due to religious, philosophical, ethical or other personal beliefs, this is the document in which you would memorialize that information. In addition, individuals use their Living Wills to detail the scenarios in which they would or would not want extreme lifesaving measures to be taken on their account.
When meeting with an estate planning attorney, individuals should discuss their options with regard to naming a Healthcare Representative. This person, named in your Living Will, is often a spouse. However, in the event there is no spouse, consider the following when choosing a Healthcare Representative:
- Will this person be easily reachable in an emergency?
- Does s/he live close enough to me to advocate for me in person?
- Is this person available and willing to serve as my Healthcare Representative?
- Are this person’s beliefs in line with my own?
- Can this person make reasoned decisions in a crisis?
- Is s/he capable of understanding a medical scenario well enough to make an informed decision on my behalf?
Another provision contained in the Living Will allows individuals to make known their wishes with regard to making anatomical bequests. You can specify which, if any, organs or parts of your body you wish to donate. Detailing this, and all of your wishes with regard to end of life decisions, not only ensures that your desires will be known, but it also frees your family from the challenge of having to make these choices for you.
Contact Nodelman Law, a New Jersey and New York estate planning firm, at 212-710-2789 ext. 2753 for questions about Living Wills / Advanced Healthcare Directives.