Some people call it a living will, others call it an advance health care directive and many have another name entirely. Regardless of what you call it, it's critical to understand the benefits and whether or not it's a good addition to your estate plan.
Many people are confused by what a living will can do for them, as the name makes them believe it has something to do with passing their assets along to their loved ones upon their death.
In actuality, a living will is a document allowing you to make critical medical and end-of-life care decisions in advance. Here are five of the top benefits:
- Peace of mind: With a living will, you never have to worry about receiving care you don't want if you're incapacitated and unable to voice your opinion. This legally binding document includes all your wishes.
- Refuse treatment: Some people want to be kept alive for as long as possible, regardless of their condition, while others would rather refuse certain types of treatment. For example, a "do no resuscitate" order is one of the most common provisions of a living will.
- Make life easier on your family: Without a living will, your loved ones, such as a spouse or adult child, are responsible for making key health care decisions on your behalf. This is difficult to do when attempting to come to grips with your situation. A living will makes all the difficult decisions for them.
- Get on the same page as your doctors: Just the same as your family, a living will gives your medical team a clear idea of what they should and shouldn't do, based on your wishes. There is no gray area.
- Ease the financial burden on your family: Depending on your condition, long-term medical treatment, such as that associated with cancer, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Through a living will, you can make decisions that reduce the cost of care, while still ensuring that you receive treatment based on your wishes.
With so many benefits of a living will, you should consider adding it to your estate plan. Once it's in place, you and your family will feel better about a future in which you're dealing with a serious illness or injury.