Living Wills Decide Who Will Make Decisions When You Can't


 Living Wills Decide Who Will Make Decisions When You Can't

In the United States, most people receive a living will as part of their estate planning. A living will is a document in which it is stated that if the individual becomes unable to make his or her own decisions due to illness, injury, or disability, then this living will lays out what kind of medical care and decision-making preferences they have.

Not everyone has a living will and those who don't need one to make decisions for themselves should consider creating one. A person who does not have a living will may find that they are unable to legally refuse life-prolonging procedures that could potentially extend their life for years after an accident or debilitating illness has taken its toll on them.

More and more people are opting to have living wills to protect themselves and their family. When they create the living will, they appoint an attorney-in-fact to make decisions for them if they are unable to make decisions for themselves. The person appointed is legally authorized as their surrogate to make health care and end-of-life decisions for them. Without a living will, family members may not know what kind of medical care the individual would want, or where they would prefer to be cared for.

A living will can give a sense of peace of mind since the individual knows that his or her final wishes are being respected and carried out. This allows the individual to focus on the important things in life, knowing that nothing else is more important.

A living will can help a person to maintain their dignity since they are involved in the process and have a say in what care is given. It can also protect loved ones financially from unexpected expenditures of money and medical services. A living will gives family members options so that they know exactly how they want things handled should something happen to the individual while he or she is unable to make their own decisions for themself.

A living will can also help family members who might otherwise be concerned for the well-being of their loved one. If the person is in a nursing home, we know that death is inevitable and therefore it may not be possible to care for them to the extent that he or she wants. As such, the resident's loved ones must make decisions about everything from what assistance they want, to where they want to be buried. In this case, a living will can help the loved ones make decisions about what the individual would have wanted under different circumstances. [1]

Many people opt not to create a living will because they believe that it will reduce their autonomy or control over their own health care and end-of-life decisions. However, this is not the case. A living will does not remove control over a person's own health care decisions, nor is it a substitute for the need to make advance health care directives.

The living will is simply a document that gives direction to close family members and surrogate decision makers as to what the individual's wishes are in case he or she becomes incapacitated. The living will does not take away from the individual because it still allows him or her to maintain their control over their own care and decisions. A living will doesn't remove any control of the person at all and, in many cases, it also allows he or she to maintain their sense of independence.

Even though people don't create living wills for various reasons, in many cases that simply comes down to their unfamiliarity with the process. Living wills can give peace of mind to those who are familiar with the process and want it for themselves or a loved one because it helps them know that the options they choose will be respected and carried out. Having this peace of mind can make a huge difference in how an individual views life after they have become ill or injured.

In the above-mentioned example, the individual might have wanted to be cared for at home or in a hospice facility if he or she became unable to make decisions for themself. In this way, the person can maintain their independence and dignity while also ensuring that they are cared for in the manner they would have wanted.

Living wills are generally written as part of an estate plan but that is not always the case. Living wills can be created at any point during one's life and there are benefits to doing so prior to it being too late. Living wills can be created at any point during one's life and there are benefits to doing so prior to it being too late.

Should an individual create a living will prior to becoming incapacitated, they can direct decisions about their health care and end-of-life wishes as they become incapacitated. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects people who have disabilities from discrimination in dealings with various institutions, including their healthcare providers. The individual could state that if he or she became unable to make their own decisions for themselves, he or she would want to be cared for in a certain facility or location rather than in a nursing home. This would allow them to maintain control over where they would like to be cared for.

Also, if an individual has a living will, they can also protect their estate. The individual's wishes can be respected and carried out in conjunction with the Individual Retirement Account or other retirement plan. The individual can also name a person to inherit his or her assets upon death, someone who would accept the responsibility of honoring the person's desires regarding his or her own healthcare and end-of-life decisions.

A living will is typically used when an individual is beyond medical help to prevent them from becoming sicker and going through unnecessary pain. This can be beneficial because it allows those who are incapacitated to remain comfortable as possible at all times while still trying to remain in control over their own personal medical decisions.

A living will is also effective when an individual is hospitalized. People can still make decisions in their best interests while they are incapacitated, and those wishes can be honored by the hospital staff. If the individual had a living will, it would be respected and carried out in accordance with his or her wishes even if he or she had not drafted it previously.

While living wills are generally used for someone who is about to become incapacitated, this does not mean that they cannot be used at any point during life. While they may not be a necessity for everyone, it is better to have them in place prior to becoming ill rather than find out later that there are no choices left for one's care.

For more information about living wills, please visit the website at or call the American Academy of Physician's Health Policy, Inc. (AAPPHI) at 1-800-773-2570. There is a free booklet that can help you understand the process and learn more about living wills and how to draft one of your own. Please click here for more information on this booklet, Living Wills: A Guide for You and Your Family, by AAPPHI's staff attorneys specializing in health care law.

If you have questions about your estate planning needs, it would be beneficial to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney or qualified financial advisor.


Living wills are a vital part of planning for one's future. While it is not a necessity for everyone, there are many benefits to having a living will and understanding what it can accomplish. Creating the correct documents in advance can give peace of mind to those you care about, allowing them to know that they will be cared for as they would have wanted should they become incapacitated. A living will is also beneficial in helping to protect one's estate by ensuring that their wishes regarding their own health care and end-of-life decisions are respected and carried out as outlined by the individual if he or she becomes incapacitated.

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