Why Should I Have a Living Will?

By: David Fagan
Not having a living will is risky. No one will be appointed to make your medical decisions if you cannot make them yourself. A living will (also called a advanced healthcare directive) is a legal document that will declare what kind of treatment you want if you become incapacitated. Many people state in their living will that they wish not to be kept artificially alive on life support if there is no chance of recovery. This is because medical bills can stack up quickly and family members could be forced to pay them just so they can give the body a proper burial.A living will can also be used to direct a physician to withhold or withdraw from certain treatments and even a feeding tube or artificial hydration being used to keep you alive.It’s very important that your exact wishes be clearly stated in the living will.

Specifically state exactly which measures and/or medical treatment you consent to or do not consent to. Also, state exactly under which conditions these measures you consent to or do not consent to be taken. For an example, you may want all the provisions enacted if you are in a vegetative state or have been diagnosed with an incurable or terminal illness. A patient is usually considered terminally ill when their life expectancy is estimated to be six months or less.Since each state's laws vary, your living will may not be able to be enacted if it’s in another state than the living will form is for. That's why it’s important to get only state specific forms. Even though an attorney isn't required to file a living will form, it is suggested that you consult an attorney to see if your living will is valid in another state. Many people do that when they spend part of every year in another state, or plan to move.Most states require that your living will form be signed by two witnesses that are not your relatives, your doctor, your doctors staff, or people named in your will. Most states also require you to get this legal form notarized. Some even require you to drag the witnesses to the notary with you when it’s being notarized. Once these necessary things are done your living will form will be legally valid.You should discuss that you have a legal living will with your family members and even printing out a copy for them and your doctor is a good idea. Then they will know your medical wishes and respect them. This will ensure no one violates the terms of the legal form.

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