What’s a Living Will?
September 4, 2015
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
What is a Living Will, and Why Should I Care?
A Living Will is a document that enables you to choose your preference as to whether to be kept alive artificially on life support in the event that you are in a persistent vegetative stage, terminally ill or have an end-stage condition. Failing to execute this document may result in your family having to decide.
What’s the Difference Between a Health Care Surrogate and a Living Will?
A health care surrogate is similar to a power of attorney, but different than a living will. It appoints someone to act on your behalf, but is limited to health-care decisions rather than financial and administrative affairs. This is an important document because it empowers you to determine who will make your health-care decisions in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. Too often people fail to execute this relatively simple document. Consequently, someone with whom you may not approve may be charged with making important decisions on your behalf. Note, again, this document is different from a living will, which expresses your wishes as to whether to be artificially prolonged on life support in the event that you are in a terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state. The unfortunate case of Terri Schiavo depicts the need for this document. In that case which received national exposure, a woman’s parents fought her husband for four many years in court over the decision to keep her alive artificially on life support. Schiavo did not have a living will and her family paid the ultimate price.
2 Considerations of a Living Will
The primary concern with respect to a living will is expressing your wishes in a properly executed document. The secondary concern should be to prevent your family from having to make a difficult decision over which you could have provided valuable insight as to your preferences. Nearly all of our clients execute this document as part of their basic estate plan.
Don’t Confuse the Issues
It’s important to point out that a living will is NOT relevant to getting a cold or breaking your leg. It’s mostly applicable to when you are in a near death situation, whereupon there a decision whether to put you on life support to sustain your life becomes necessary.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
YOU ARE NOT OUR CLIENT UNLESS WE EXECUTE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT TO THAT EFFECT. MOREOVER, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. EACH SITUATION IS HIGHLY FACT SPECIFIC AND EXCEPTIONS OFTEN EXIST TO GENERAL RULES. DO NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION, AS A CONSULTATION TO UNDERSTAND THE FACTS AND THE CLIENT’S NEEDS AND GOALS IS NECESSARY. ULTIMATELY WE MUST BE RETAINED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION. THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A COURTESY AND, ACCORDINGLY, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.