Why You Need A Living Will
By Allison O'Connor
Taking an active role in your health care while you are healthy is a smart move. But what would happen if God forbid, you become seriously ill? Have you put your health directives in writing? If not, now is the time, while you are healthy and able to communicate your wishes.
An advance directive is a legal document that states in writing the type of care you want to receive during the last moments of your life. Without this document, the state, court or other family members may make these decisions for you.
But before you draw up this legal document, consider discussing your wishes with your physician, family members and those close to you first. To help you choose the advanced directive that’s right for you, read on.
Advance Health Care Directive, Living Wills or Advance Decisions – Formal document with instructions given by you specifying the type of life-prolonging medical care you want in the event you become terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or in a vegetative state.
Tip: Living wills should be signed and witnessed. Some states have their own living will forms that can be purchased from a stationary store.
Durable Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy – A signed, dated, and witnessed document that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Some people have a combination of both (power of attorney and advance directive), known as The Five Wishes to insure the most comprehensive guidance regarding their care.
Tip: Most states have specific health care power of attorney forms. You also don’t need an attorney to draw up the durable power of attorney document, but check your state laws first. Many do not allow the appointed agent to act as a witness.
For additional information on your state’s requirements and free forms, visit www.caringinfo.org. Additional terms and information can also be found on putitinwriting.org. As with any legal document, it’s always best to talk with an attorney before you finalize any advance directive.
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