A living will is an important component to a well-drafted estate plan. This document allows you have some control over medical treatment in the event you lose your decision-making authority. The living will spells out directions as to what you would want done in relation to certain medical decisions if you no longer have the ability to make these decisions yourself.
But there’s a catch…
A living will is not legally binding in Massachusetts.
So why would an attorney recommend a document that has no legal authority? Despite having no binding authority, a living will still holds a lot of value. It provides guidance to the Courts, or the person you have named as your Health Care Proxy, to know what your wishes are in certain situations. It means that your health care at a critical time is not going to be a guessing game and fighting over what you would want. What you want has been spelled out in black and white.
It is very important to name someone you trust to carry out your wishes regarding medical care as your health care proxy. Make sure that whomever you name knows you have named them and have a serious conversation with them about your wishes. Make sure they have a copy of your living will. Although these conversations are not easy ones to have, it will benefit both you and your proxy to know where you stand on these issues before they become issues.
At a minimum, your living will should address the following:
- What life sustaining treatment do you want?
- What life sustaining treatment do you not want?
- Do you want artificial feeding?
- Do you want medications that may hasten your demise, but make you more comfortable?
- Where do you want to live out your last days – home or hospital/hospice?
- Do you wish to be an organ donor?
You may also wish to address whether you are comfortable with receiving experimental treatments. With medical science changing at lightening speed, this could be an important component to your care. See, for example, http://www.iflscience.com/brain/biotech-company-use-stem-cells-reactivate-brains-dead.
Contact Attorney Catherine Taylor to discuss your estate planning needs!
THIS BLOG WAS WRITTEN FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES BY ATTORNEY CATHERINE TAYLOR. NOTHING HEREIN SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE OR AS CREATING AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.