When it comes time to discuss estate planning options, one of the most important aspects is a living will, also commonly called an advance directive. Most people know what a will is: a legal instrument used to direct the disposition of assets after death. However, a living will is a slightly different type of document.
A Living Will is Created to Direct End of Life Decisions
A key difference between a regular will and a living will is that the former is created to direct the disposition of assets while the latter is created to direct the administration of end of life decisions. When a living will is drafted, the goal is to address whether to maintain or cease providing life supporting medical treatment.
While a living will can be drafted at any point during someone’s life, it is most frequently drafted with an eye towards end-of-life care when a person enters the retirement years.
Naming a Healthcare Power of Attorney
If you are assisting an elderly loved one in putting together his or her living will, or putting your own living will together, one thing you will need to give some consideration is making sure they also have a healthcare power of attorney document. This document will name someone who can act on the behalf of the person who is incapacitated during their lifetime to make facility and treatment decisions.
This agent will be tasked with communicating with doctors and other healthcare professionals in order to ensure that the incapacitated person’s wishes are honored. Given the enormity of this responsibility, you should ensure that your elderly loved one chooses someone he or she trusts.
A well-crafted living will and healthcare power of attorney are an indispensable part of the documents your elderly loved one should have. It reduces uncertainty and helps give him or her peace of mind.