What is a Living Will?

There is a lot of confusion about what a living will is, and people commonly confuse the living will, will, and power of attorney for healthcare. A living will is a document that allows you to give instructions and make known your wishes regarding life-sustaining medical care. The living will is also commonly referred to as an advance directive or a health care directive. And while a living will is often used in conjunction with a medical durable power of attorney, the medical durable power of attorney (aka power of attorney for healthcare) and the living will are two completely separate and distinct documents.

The specific rules about how to draft a valid living will and what makes the living will effective will vary from state to state. But in general, the terms of the living will are only going to apply in situations where the “declarant,” or the person for whom the living will is drafted, becomes terminally ill or is in a persistent vegetative state. More specifically, the living will is generally only going to be effective in cases where administering any medical treatment is only going to postpone the moment of death.

The primary purpose of the living will is two-fold: First, it gives you the ability to make your wishes known. Second, the living will can provide your family with comfort and ease knowing that they are doing what you would want them to do if it came to the point of them having to decide whether or not to withdraw life-sustaining procedures. Having a valid living will in place can serve to prevent family disagreements as to the course of your medical care. Often times when family members disagree, they will have to go through the court system, which will ultimately leave the decision-making up to the judge. Not only can this be a tedious, time-consuming, and emotional process, but it is also expensive (what with court fees, attorneys’ fees, medical bills piling up, etc.). Having a living will in place can prevent all of that and can give your family peace of mind knowing that they are following your wishes.

Denver, Colorado estate planning attorney Aiden H. Kramer offers estate planning packages that include a living will for as little as $800. Call (720) 379-3425 or email [email protected] today to get started.