If you have an estate plan, or if you have been thinking about an estate plan, then you have probably heard of the terms “will” and “living will.” While the two may sound like they are the exactly same thing, a will and a living will are two very different legal document types, and both are very important to a complete estate plan.
If you do not yet have an estate plan that includes a living will, it is time to create one. At the law offices of Zach Alsobrook, we have an experienced team of estate planning lawyers that can help you review the tough questions that are part of creating a living will, and make smart choices for yourself as you age.
What Is a Living Will?
Unlike a traditional will, which is used to make a determination about how a property is to be divided and assets distributed upon a person’s death, a living will is used to state your preferences for end of life care. A living will is often called an advanced directive and helps guide family members and doctors regarding your plan for end of life.
What Types of Decisions Are Made through a Living Will?
Your living will is an opportunity for you to state your preferences for what you want to happen to you when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes, such as would be the case in the event of a severe accident or health complication. Types of decisions that are made through living wills, and communicated to doctors and family members, include:
• Whether or not you want to receive life-saving medical care towards the end of life that is intended to prolong your life, such as blood transfusions, breathing machines, CPR, and certain surgeries;
• Whether or not you want food and water to you given to you via IV or feeding tube if you are unable to eat or drink;
• Whether or not you want your organs and tissues to be donated (in which case you must be kept on a form of life support until the process is completed);
• What your preferences are regarding the use of pain medications and palliative care at the end of life; and
• Who you want to serve as your health care proxy.
The person who is your health care proxy is your choice for who you want to make any medical decisions that are not expressly stated in your advance directive. In order to be a health care proxy in Alabama, a person must be over the age of 18 years old, and cannot be the person who is providing you with medical treatment, or an employee of the person providing you with medical treatment. In other words, your doctor cannot be your health care proxy. Of course, when choosing a health care proxy, you want to choose someone whom you trust to act in a manner that is consistent with your wishes.
The Benefits of Creating an Advanced Directive
Creating a living will is a very important decision. Not only does it ensure that your wishes are followed when you are at a point in your life that you do not have the physical or cognitive ability to express yourself, but it can also help to reduce stress for family members. Making a decision about what type of care you need, or whether or not to take you off of life support, can be one of the most difficult decisions for a family member, such as a spouse or child, to make. When you have these decisions planned, everyone can feel more at ease, and be given more time to process these choices.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
We understand that thinking about a time in your life where you are incapacitated and near the end of your life is extremely difficult to do. We treat our clients with a personalized and sensitive approach, taking into account your personal, religious, scientific, and spiritual preferences when creating a living will. If you have questions about a living will, we are here to help. Please contact the experienced and compassionate estate planning attorneys of the Alsobrook Law Firm today for your free consultation with our knowledgeable Alabama estate planning attorneys. We are reachable online or by phone at (334) 737-3718.