As of 2007, 41% of Americans had a Living Will. Are you among that number? If not, you should be. A Living Will is an important part of your incapacity plan.
The main purpose of a Living Will is to dictate your medical preferences. If you become incapacitated either due to a mental disability or a terminal illness, your Living Will can declare your medical wishes for you.
Most Living Wills focus on treatments or care used when a terminal diagnosis has been issued. When you make a Living Will, you can state your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatments such as blood transfusions, CPR, and respirators. If you do not wish to endure some or all life-prolonging treatments, you may use your Living Will to say so.
Living Wills may also cover palliative treatment. This is pain relief care used to provide comfort to those who may have chosen to avoid life-prolonging treatments.
Whatever your preferences are for life-prolonging and palliative care, it is ideal to state those preferences in a legal document such as a Living Will. If you do not have a Living Will or have not stated your medical choices in another disability planning document, your health care agent may not know your wishes regarding terminal illness treatments and life support systems. He or she will have to make decisions based upon what is considered best for you. The treatment chosen may not be one you wished to have.
A Living Will is just one cornerstone of your disability plan. You can also create a Medical Power of Attorney to name a health care agent and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney to name a financial agent. We also recommend a HIPAA Authorization. When deciding what path is best for your disability plan, speak with your attorney. The important thing is simply having a way to state your medical choices when you are no longer able to.