By Todd Rasmussen, Estate Planning Kansas City
We often receive questions about living wills. The living will serves an important part in a person’s estate plan. More importantly, it helps your decisions makers by informing them of your wishes. A living will allows people to specify how they want to be cared for should they become critically ill or incapacitated and are unable to make sound decisions about their health.
A living will is not a regular will.
That’s right! Living wills are often confused with regular wills which deals with transferring property at death. However, living wills are more limited in scope as they include how and who makes medical decisions for you in a critically ill condition when you’re not able to convey your preferences or who makes end of life decisions for you should the need arise. This is why a living will is also referred to as an advance health care directive.
A living will guides family members and health care providers in making decisions regarding your health
This includes a desire to withhold treatment or continue treatment if a person becomes incapacitated or is set to be in a permanent vegetative state. This aspect of a living will or advanced directive is often overlooked. A good living will or advanced directive will specifically call out types of treatment and allow you to indicate whether you want such treatment. For instance, most people do not want to be on a respiratory if they are terminally ill or have a significant brain injury (and are at an end of life situation). By initialing that it is “ok” to remove the respirator, you relieve the guilt and stress borne by your decision maker.
Naming a durable power of attorney for health care is equally important
In planning for health possibilities, it is daunting to contemplate what you would wish for in every possible healthcare situation. This is the reason you need to consider also crafting a durable power of attorney for health care. This type of power of attorney gives legal authority to the person you name in the event you are unable to make the health decisions yourself. A durable power of attorney for healthcare is duly recognized and valid in all states.
Living wills are valid and are legally binding on physicians and health care providers in all states
Creating both a living will and durable power of attorney will give you a rest of mind knowing that even in sensitive health decisions that can be difficult for your family to make; they’ll know what you always wanted. A Living Will lets family and caregivers know the types of treatments you want and don’t want, the way you would like to be cared for as you age, and who should make decisions for you if you can’t make decisions for yourself. Most importantly, it takes a huge amount of stress off your family, since they won’t have to make these often difficult decisions about your care.
Feel free to call our office with any questions about this column. We’re here to help.
This Sponsored Column is written by Todd Rasmussen of Estate Planning KC. Rasmussen is an attorney and certified public accountant with offices in Overland Park. His firm, Estate Planning Kansas City, helps clients with their estate planning and business needs. This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to render legal advice. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be made solely on the basis of this article.