Log in Subscribe
Making Sense Out of Dollars

The Living Will

Joel Lerner, Columnist
Posted 4/2/21

Part 1 of 4

During the past weeks, our discussions have been about wills. The difference between a Living Will and a Will is that the Living Will takes care of you as you die, not afterward as a …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Making Sense Out of Dollars

The Living Will

Posted

Part 1 of 4

During the past weeks, our discussions have been about wills. The difference between a Living Will and a Will is that the Living Will takes care of you as you die, not afterward as a regular will would do.

Have you ever given any thought to writing out a Living Will? Also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive or an Advance Medical Directive, a Living Will is a legal document that provides your family, doctors and caregivers with vital information about what life-saving measures you wish to undergo should you ever end up in a position where you are unable to communicate your wishes. Within the Living Will, a number of aspects are considered, including resuscitation options, medical guidelines, and any wishes you may have regarding life support.

What is a Living Will?

1. The purpose: In the event of a terminal illness or a serious accident, a Living Will conveys your instructions for life-sustaining medical treatment. It also names someone to serve as your agent - usually a spouse or family member.

2. The risks: Without a Living Will, you risk having your decisions about your medical treatment made without your consent. This includes starting, maintaining and ending life support systems. Furthermore, without a Living Will, your family members may disagree about the right course of action in an emergency.

3. The limitations: While a Last Will and Testament provides instructions for any disposition of your property after your death (with the exception of organ donation), a Living Will does not cover every situation. For instance, you may need treatment that has not been contemplated by your Living Will. In this situation, an agent, appointed by a Medical Power of Attorney will make medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated.

4. Create a Medical Power of Attorney: Alongside writing a Living Will, you should also create a Medical Power of Attorney, allowing you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you.

5. Create a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): This program ensures that the medical treatment you have expressed is honored by health care professionals, as you move from one health care setting to another. This program is helpful if the health care workers have no access to your Living Will, or if it is not specific enough on treatments that you may or may not have wanted. Furthermore, in creating a POLST, you may include a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order. It can also state your wishes with respect to intubation, antibiotic use and feeding tubes. A POLST is important as doctors may sometimes ignore your Living Will.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

If you don’t take care of your body, where else are you going to live?

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here