The Significance of a Living Will in Estate Planning
The Significance of a Living Will

The Significance of a Living Will in Estate Planning

To understand the significance of a living will in estate planning, let us first establish what a living will is.

What is a living will?

A living will is a document on which you can spell out your wishes for end of life situations.  For example, you could choose to not be kept under life support if the chances for your survival are almost zero. A living will is also often called an advance healthcare directive.

Not to be confused with a last will and testament, living wills are only effective during your lifetime since they only influence what happens to you during your end of life. They do not say anything about your assets.

To create a living will, talk to an estate planning lawyer near you.

What Is The Significance Of A Living Will In Estate Planning?

The significance of a living will in an estate plan is given by the fact that your wishes are recognized. This time, it is not about how you want your assets distributed, but exactly what kind of medical attention you require. Whether positive or negative, so long your wishes are enshrined legally in your living will, they must be adhered to by your family and physician.

Creating your living will

If you have certain end of life wishes you would like to lay down in your living will, it’s advisable to contact am estate planning attorney near you since this is a legal and sensitive issue. In addition to that, your lawyer can also establish your entire estate plan.

You may want to save cost, however, and do it yourself. To do so, ensure you’re accustomed to the legal requirements specific to your state since these requirements vary from place to place.

How a living will works

The person who writes a living will is called the principal. A living will will not hold if the principal is found to be pregnant at time of the critical medical condition.

A living will can go into effect the moment you create and sign it. It remains effective until death, but you can choose to terminate it at any time before then.

However, there is an exception to how long your living will lasts, and this is in the area of tissue/organ donation and autopsy. Such actions can only be done when you have passed away. If you lay down instructions for such matters, then your living will continues to be effective until your instruction has been carried out. Then the document ceases to be effective.

For a living will to be effective, it must comply with your state laws. If there is any violation, your document will not be valid. Most states usually allow you to state your wishes broadly or more specifically as you deem fit. Typically, you should include the direction for care to decrease your pain while taking certain extreme measures like taking you out of life support when the situation becomes hopeless, or donating your organ.

How to write your living will in New York

You are to tick any box that tallies with your wish

  • Not to receive mechanical respiration.
  • Not to receive artificial hydration and nutrition.
  • Not to receive antibiotics.
  • Not to receive dialysis.
  • Not to receive blood transfusions.
  • Not to receive invasive diagnostic tests.
  • Not to receive anti-psychotic medication.
  • Not to receive electric shock therapy.
  • Not to receive a transplant.
  • Not to have an abortion or be sterilized.
  • Not to receive a pacemaker (Non cardiac related terminal or irreversible condition).
  • Not to receive surgery.
  • Not to receive invasive or painful surgery.
  • To receive maximum pain relief, even if this shortens life.

Living wills and Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a document through which you transfer authority to another individual — your attorney-in-fact — to make medical decisions on your behalf. A living will can work alongside a POA in your estate plan. By creating a durable power of attorney, your attorney-in-fact will still be authorized even when you fall into incapacity. Hence, they can make medical decisions as they deem fit if you are in an end-of-life situation.

Speak with an estate planning attorney near you

It is always advisable to speak with a legal professional when embarking on anything legal.

Living around New York City? Contact us today to speak with an estate planning lawyer near you.