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Living wills and making important healthcare decisions

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Wills & Estates

While it’s uncomfortable to contemplate scenarios where you need a living will, having one in place is important. A living will is a legal document that outlines your preferences for medical treatment if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. It is also known as an advance directive.

Without this directive, your loved ones and healthcare providers may face difficult decisions without clear guidance. This can lead to disputes or decisions that do not align with your values and beliefs.

Making healthcare decisions in advance

One of the primary purposes of a living will is to empower individuals to make decisions about their healthcare while they can still do so. By clearly stating your preferences for end-of-life care, you can ensure that others respect your wishes even if you cannot express them.

Choosing medical treatments

In a living will, individuals can specify which medical treatments they would like to receive and under what circumstances. This list may include decisions about life-sustaining treatments such as artificial nutrition and hydration or CPR. By documenting their preferences in advance, individuals can provide clarity to their healthcare providers and loved ones during challenging times.

Designating a healthcare proxy

In addition to outlining specific medical treatments, a living will may include the appointment of a healthcare proxy or surrogate decision-maker. You entrust this person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot. Choosing a trusted individual to serve as a healthcare proxy can provide peace of mind and ensure that one’s wishes are upheld.

Ensuring peace of mind

Creating an advance directive offers individuals and their families peace of mind during times of uncertainty. It provides reassurance that others will make medical decisions per one’s wishes and values, relieving loved ones of the burden of making difficult choices without clear guidance.

Reviewing and updating a living will to accurately reflect one’s current preferences and circumstances is important. Life-changing events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or a significant change in health status may warrant revisions to the document.