What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Living Will?

Despite its name, a living will is not really a will at all. A living will, often called an “advance directive” or a “healthcare directive,” is a document that reflects your wishes for medical care or treatment should you become incapacitated or terminally ill and, consequently, unable to communicate your wishes. However unpleasant the thought may be, you can benefit from having a living will no matter what your age or current state of health. Here we’ll talk about some of the benefits and downfalls to having a living will and how working with Hulbert & Associates can help you prepare for the future.

Pros of a Living Will

Make life easier for your family.

If executing your living becomes necessary, it will no doubt be a sad and scary time for you and your family. Further, leaving decision-making about your health care up to your loved ones can create confusion, and even tension, between members who only have your best interests at heart. With a living will, you can relax knowing that your family doesn’t have to worry about making these difficult decisions for you.

Additionally, treatment for long-term and terminal illnesses is very expensive. Having a living will means you can remove the burdens of figuring out payment and the ultimate decision of when to cut off care from your family.

Delegate decision-making.

In the absence of a living will, the state will elect someone close to you to be your decision-maker. Oftentimes, this person doesn’t know anything about your care or your wishes unless they were communicated to them prior to your illness or incapacity. The timing of when a state will elect a representative varies depending on the type of illness you have or your mental state leading up to the decision. With a living will, neither you nor members of your family need to worry about who this process will fall upon as all of the major decisions will already have been made.

Get the care you really want.

Another benefit to having a living will is that you can avoid receiving any care that you don’t want. What this really means is that you will only receive the kind of care and treatments that you know about and are comfortable with. Medical care and treatment is not only costly, but it can be very difficult on your mind and body. With a living will, you can work closely with your doctors to develop a medical plan that you are comfortable with and you can rest easy knowing that you will not have to suffer through any invasive or unnecessary treatments without your prior approval.

Cons of a Living Will

Limited in scope.

Unfortunately, living wills are not always able to provide for every scenario that may occur and as a result of this, they are often written in vague terms. This can ultimately leave a fair deal of discretion in regards to decision making with your doctor. Further, if a new treatment is discovered after you have become incapacitated and you would have liked it administered, you may not be able to receive it if you did not include anything referencing new treatments in your living will. Nevertheless, this is one way that careful drafting with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney is of great benefit to you so that your rights to the best healthcare remain protected.

Inaccessible to healthcare providers.

Oftentimes, living wills, like regulars wills, are kept locked up in safes and are only discovered after you have become incapacitated thus negating some of its purpose. For example, if you are involved in an accident and are left incapacitated, but no one else knows of your living will, it may not be discovered until it is too late. However, this is another area that careful planning with an estate attorney can help to avoid so that your wishes are delegated properly at or before they need to come into play.

Dealing with the possibility of an illness or catastrophic injury is daunting, which makes planning for them a very grim task. However, with the help an experienced estate planning attorney, drafting a living will doesn’t have to be scary. Contact Hulbert & Associates today to discuss a plan for your future healthcare.

Written by Lori Hulbert

Together the attorneys of the firm have nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, guardianships and conservatorships and civil litigation.