Most wills aren’t examined until after your passing, so the will can be used to determine how you want your estate handled. However, many people create a living will to protect them in their old age. If you want to protect your wishes for end-of-life medical care, you need to check out these pros and cons of a living will.
1. Pro: Ensures You Get What You Need and Want
The biggest advantage of a living will is that it lists out all the care you want and need in your later years. This is extremely important because, when the time comes, you may not be able to voice your opinions, wants and concerns. For example, you may prefer to be sent to a good nursing home for round-the-clock care (instead of putting stress on family by staying with them), but without a living will, how can you tell anyone if you are incapacitated?
When creating your living will, make sure to consider every alternative. Common medical decisions in living wills include CPR, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis, organ and tissue donations, and comfort care.
2. Pro: Takes the Pressure off Family
Creating a living will take a major burden off your family, who may not be in the right mindset to help decide what you want or need, depending on your overall health. Plus, your family may not know all your wishes. While you may have told them what you want to have done with your body after you pass, you probably haven’t had an in-depth conversation about end-of-life care.
Even if some family members think they know what you want, others may disagree, impacting your treatment and care. Finally, with a living will, your loved ones don’t have to make the tough decisions like whether or not to do CPR, which may leave them with guilt.
3. Con: You Need to Understand It
The problem with a living will is that many people don’t think to make them until they need end-of-life care, but this can be dangerous. You need to understand what you are agreeing to when you sign the will. If your doctor determines you do not understand because of diminished mental capacity, the will can’t be used.
For this reason, you need to craft your living will while you are still healthy enough to fully understand and agree to everything you are signing.
4. Con: People Can Still Argue the Meaning
Depending on the wording in your living will, family members and doctors may argue the meaning.
First, your doctor has the ultimate power in deciding your care, so if your doctor disagrees with something in the living will for ethical obligations or to provide proper care, they can deny treatment. For example, your living will may state that you want to be sent to a standard nursing home, but if your doctor diagnoses you with dementia, they may decide you’d be better at a special facility for a patient with dementia.
Your family members can also argue what certain words or phrases mean. This is why you should also give a trusted family member power of attorney, so they can make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Hopefully, this should reduce arguments among family members since only one member is legally allowed to speak for you.
A living will can be extremely beneficial, but only if you do it right. DIY living wills and wills with poor wording and/or no power of attorney can be more problematic than helpful, especially if it only leads to arguments among family members. If you would like to learn more about living wills and estate planning, contact us at the Law Offices of Rick D. Steinberg, LLC, today.