Everyone should have a living will, regardless of what their directives are, if only to make sure that their wishes are clear and that they are honored at the end of life stage. Living wills are essential for carrying out one’s wishes. Unfortunately, not being in the know can affect the owner(s) of a will’s objectives and their intended beneficiaries.
Jason Smith, Estate planning attorney and Elder planning attorney is available to talk about this story. (Bio)
Talking Points for an Interview
With Jason Smith on Living Wills:
- Do be clear about your wishes, including when the living will applies (usually only when the individual is incapacitated + (diagnosed with a terminal illness OR permanently unconscious), what treatments, if any, should be withheld or provided.
- Most people do not want CPR, artificial ventilation, nutrition or hydration or any sort of invasive medical procedures but they do want unlimited pain medication to keep them comfortable.
- If you think you want particular treatments or procedures, think carefully about the circumstances in which they should be provided and the practical consequences that might result. For example, some clients say they want antibiotics, thinking that they are non-invasive with no downside, without realizing that they can very easily have the unintended effect of prolonging suffering with no benefit whatsoever to the individual.
- Do provide copies of your living will to your estate planning attorney, your close family members, designated health care proxy / medical power of attorney, personal physician, and any hospital in which you are admitted for treatment.
- Do communicate your wishes to your family and discuss the issues with them while you are alive and healthy.
- Do separate the non-medical issues from the medical issues. Issues such as who will be allowed to visit you in the hospital, whether you want to be added to the church prayer list, etc., do not belong in the living will and are better left to a side letter.
- Do not make it more complicated than it needs to be. There are some living will forms in circulation that are very lengthy and convoluted—most people will agonize about the details and put off getting it done forever, which is by far the worst result.
- Do not put it off. Tragic accidents and medical emergencies occur unexpectedly. Living wills are relevant to everyone, not just the sick and elderly.
- Do not seek treatment at a hospital or other facility that will refuse to follow your living will, for religious or any other reason.
- Free forms on the internet and/or the form the hospital gives you when you are admitted are probably not going to meet your needs.
Estate planning and elder / senior care lawyers are well versed in these topics and will provide an experienced and expert sounding board for your questions and concerns and help you get the information you need.
Interview: Jason J. Smith.
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.