Nobody likes to think about situations in which they would not be able to clearly communicate their own medical wishes, but these situations can and do happen. In order to take control and make sure you are getting what you want in these scenarios, it is important to have a living will.
Here’s what you need to know about this document and its significance for you and your loved ones:
What is a Living Will?
Also called a “physicians directive”, “health care directive” or “healthcare directive”, a living will tells medical staff what should be done with you in various situations in which you cannot speak for yourself. More specifically, it dictates what doctors should do in the event that your only option to be kept living may be life support. In these cases, you will most likely be in an irreversible coma or an otherwise vegetative state due to brain damage or illness. While it’s true that your chances of ever being in this situation may be slim, that doesn’t change the fact that it can still happen.
For example, the now-infamous Terri Schiavo case of the late 90s and early 2000s focused on a woman whose family members fought over whether or not her feeding tubes should be removed. Medical staff had already declared Ms. Schiavo to be “brain dead”, but she was kept alive on life support for years in the hopes that she would improve or recover. It is unknown, however, what Ms. Schiavo herself would have wanted, as she did not have a living will.
Who Needs a Living Will?
The short answer to this is “everyone”. While regular wills dictate what is to be done with a person’s possessions, property and investments after they die, a living will directly deals with what will happen to you. If you want to still have some control over what happens with you (keep you on life support for a certain period of time, do not resuscitate, etc.), then it is crucial that you have a living will.
Anyone over the age of 18 should therefore have one, regardless of whether or not they have any actual possessions or accumulated wealth. This is about you, after all, not your stuff.
A Living Will Helps Your Family Members
If not for you, then it is at the very least important to have a living will in place so that your family members may be at ease. Things can be extremely stressful and even psychologically damaging if they are put in a situation where they may have to decide whether or not to keep you on life support.
Having a living will already in place will tell them directly what you would like done, and they can take comfort in knowing they are doing the right thing. Even if they no longer have you there telling them verbally what your wishes are, they’ll still be able to carry them out.
How to Get Started
Theres no better time than the present to take action and get your living will drawn up. We may not be able to fully control the future, but we can shape it. Contact the professionals at Dana Law Group today to learn more about how a living will can be beneficial to you and your family members. We’re here to help!