Do I need a living will as part of my estate plan?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2020 | Estate Planning

Indiana residents who are taking the wise step to create an estate plan might be under the impression that a will or a trust is sufficient. However, there are other aspects of an estate plan that should be considered, especially for those who have deeply held beliefs as to what type of care they want to receive if they become terminally ill and are unable to communicate. When thinking about an all-encompassing estate plan, this should be factored in. Having legal assistance toward that end with a living will may be beneficial.

Understanding a living will and what it does

People might have heard the term “living will,” but are unsure as to what it specifically does. In a living will, the person who creates the estate plan – the testator – will have their wishes detailed for when they are in a condition where they cannot communicate or are terminally ill. This is also referred to as an advanced directive. The type of treatment the person will get when they are in this situation will be listed in the document. For example, many people do not want to be kept alive by medical professionals placing them on a respirator. They might not want to be fed through artificial means. The living will stipulates that this is not done.

In the living will declaration medical professionals and the family members will be informed as to what they can and cannot do to keep the person alive. If the failure to perform certain procedures like placing the person in a respirator will lead to a natural death, this is accepted as part of the testator’s wishes. Some might want certain procedures done like a blood transfusion, but do not want to be placed on a respirator. It is vital that this be specified.

Legal assistance with estate planning and a living will

Those who have a living will should remember they reserve the right to change their mind and have it canceled by saying out loud that they no longer want it to be in effect or by destroying it themselves. These are complicated parts of estate planning law and should be fully understood from the beginning. For those who are unsure of the law for a living will and life-prolonging procedures if they become incapacitated, it is a good decision to consult with experienced legal professionals. This is true for any aspect of crafting a comprehensive estate plan.