Although the word "will" often conjures thoughts of the documents left behind to clearly define how you want your estate handled, a living will is quite different. Living wills are your declaration about your preferences for major medical decisions. If you're ever incapacitated, the living will provides a roadmap to follow when deciding about your care. For people with deep conviction about life-saving and sustaining efforts, these documents are vital. Here are the things you should know to create your own living will.
Talk to an Attorney
A living will attorney, such as Modesitt Law Offices PC, can tell you what your state's requirements are for specific legal terminology, witness signatures and declarations to ensure that your living will is legally binding. If you're going to put the effort in to create the document, you want to be sure that it's accurate and legally enforceable. Living will attorneys specialize in these types of documents, so it's in your best interest to consult a professional before you put anything on paper.
Creating a Comprehensive Document
When you draft your living will, you'll want to be sure that you address all of the relevant sections and clearly define your wishes. This document will drive the decisions for your care in the event that you are unable to make those choices for yourself.
Start with the Declaration
The first component of your living will is the initial declaration. This is the section where you identify yourself and state clearly that this document is the clear and definitive source for information about your medical care in the event of incapacitation. From there, you should go on to explain your basic wishes for life-sustaining or life-saving medical intervention as part of your care.
You should also include a passage that explains under which scenarios you believe this to be applicable. For example, if you are in a coma, but medical professionals believe that you will make a complete recovery with the right supportive care, you may not want to have the support efforts cut off.
However, if you're facing a medical diagnosis from which there is no recovery or one that is clearly terminal, you may not want to have medical equipment sustaining your life. Clearly explain these scenarios so that there is no question about when the document applies.
Address Any Special Considerations
Since it is impossible to predict every potential medical scenario that you could find yourself in, your living will should be used to highlight the most important factors to you. Include a section in your living will for any special considerations that might apply.
For example, if you want special considerations given to new medical technology, the potential for life-saving surgery, resuscitation or even feeding tubes, you should spotlight those things in their own sections. This gives you the chance to elaborate on your position related to each of these things without affecting the core meaning of your declaration.
With the information presented here and the support of a living will attorney, you can address all of the key points required for an enforceable living will. An attorney is a valuable investment in this process, though, because he or she can provide the expertise related to the legal terminology you must include.