A living will is one of the two types of advance health directives available. A living will usually covers your directives as to what treatment you want, or don’t want, if you are ill and unable to give informed consent due to incapacity from the illness. Your living will is most often accompanied by a power of attorney or a health care proxy. The power of attorney portion of your living will names another person to make the decisions for your health and treatment if you are incapacitated and unable to do so.
There are many reasons why you should have a living will. In this modern technological age, doctors can do a variety of treatments, some even experimental, to help treat illnesses. Incapacitating illness can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye. There is no real way to be prepared for incapacitation, except to ensure that there is documentation about how your want your medical treatment to go should you not be able to answer for yourself. This is where a living will comes in.
If you are in a coma, on life support or otherwise incapacitated and unable to speak or answer questions, your living will does the speaking for you. It tells your family, loved ones and the doctors what you want and don’t want for treatment. There are many people who do not want to be put on life support at all and many families would have a difficult time making that decision should it come to that. Your living will answers those difficult questions, leaving the decision up to you and taking it off the shoulders of your family.
On the flip side of that coin, there are people who want every possible measure taken to ensure that all has been done – unending scopes of treatments and further into experimental treatments if necessary. Some families would see that pain and suffering and want to end it mercifully by not allowing the doctors to continue with treatment.
If you know what you want to have done, should you become incapacitated by an illness or accident, then you should have a living will drawn up. This lets your wishes be known to everyone and many families are opting for them now. It takes the ‘hard decisions’ off the shoulders of the families and does what you want with your life and body leaving them without guilt or remorse, or questioning what should be done.
Living wills are not difficult to draft, and should be accompanied with conversations with your loved ones and your physical. Don’t let your wishes only be known if there is an incapacitating illness for you. They can be done without the help of a lawyer or attorney, although it is highly suggested that you speak with your loved ones about your personal healthcare directive when you are completing it, so that they can comprehend your wishes.