A living will is a document that explains what medical decisions someone should make if you become so ill that you cannot make those decisions yourself. If you have sustained life-threatening injuries or you are incapacitated by some terminal illness, the decisions regarding your health care will be taken according to your living will. Without it, the decision becomes the responsibility of the spouse, family members, or any third party.
A Living Trust
A living trust is not the same as a living will. It is a legal document that ensures that a person's property is dispersed according to his or her wishes upon death. With a living trust, a person actually transfers ownership of their assets to the trust and then selects a trustee to administer it.
Five things you should know about living wills:
1. It can provide effective direction regarding the use of a life support system. It reduces ambiguity during a difficult time by stating your wishes on medical care.
2. It should be made in advance and not at the time of ailment.
3. You can draft your own living will with your lawyer’s help. You can find out what medical issues could arise or what will happen if you do
not have a will.
4. Standard forms are easily available online or through certain organizations. Have the will witnessed and notarized. Make sure that you also get a health care power of attorney. This allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated to do so.
5. Pitfalls may arise in case your will has not been updated and you change states. Failing to get the health care power of attorney can also be a problem. Not informing whomever you named to act on your behalf or not telling the spouse or others that you named someone else can also cause a snag.
The American Bar Association (ABA) clarifies that having a written advance directive by itself does not ensure that your wishes will be understood. It is essential to communicate it to your likely decision-makers before a crisis occurs.
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