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Making Sense Out of Dollars

The Living Will

Joel Lerner, Columnist
Posted 4/9/21

Part 2 of 4

How Do I Prepare to Write a Living Will?

1. Talk to your doctor: Before writing up your Living Will, it is important that you speak with your doctor, ensuring that you clearly …

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Making Sense Out of Dollars

The Living Will

Posted

Part 2 of 4

How Do I Prepare to Write a Living Will?

1. Talk to your doctor: Before writing up your Living Will, it is important that you speak with your doctor, ensuring that you clearly understand what your choices would mean. Decisions should not be made lightly as some of the terms used in a Living Will can be confusing. For example, it is important to know the difference between resuscitation and life support. Resuscitation is the act of bringing a person back to life after the heart has stopped. On the other hand, life support is a system that uses a ventilator or feeding tube to keep you alive when you are unable to do so on your own.

2. Discuss your decisions with your family: Discussing your wishes with your family and loved ones will help you get an idea of whether they would be comfortable in carrying out your instructions. In writing out your Living Will, you want to make sure that your family will not interfere with your wishes.

3. Consult with a lawyer: Speak to an experienced trusts and estates attorney to discuss your Living Will and other directives, such as a Medical Power of Attorney.

4. Appoint an agent: When doing so, appoint someone who is not opposed to or is uncomfortable with your choices, and make sure that your agent will follow your instructions. People generally appoint a spouse or an adult child as their agent. It is important that they know that you have appointed them as their agent. You do not want it to be a surprise should they need to undertake the responsibilities of the position. Furthermore, it is important to express to whomever you choose that your choices be enforced. It is not unusual for doctors and hospitals to ignore provisions contained within a Living Will. Your agent will, therefore, need to be forceful with medical professionals while advocating on your behalf.

5. Define the authority of your agent: Your Living Will can define the amount of authority your agent will have. It is generally advised that you give your agent broad authority, as they are more likely to be able to carry out your wishes in an unforeseen circumstance.

6. Change your mind: Even after you have written up your Living Will, it can be changed or canceled. In case you change your mind case, you should immediately notify anyone who has a copy of the Living Will, including your agent and your doctor. If possible, destroy all copies and make a new one.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Get everything done before you are.

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