If you have grandparents or parents in their golden years, you are likely acutely aware of the importance of having a will or estate plan in place. Chances are good that your loved one has already taken the time to arrange for the disposition of their assets after they pass on.

While this is a great step to have taken, it doesn’t mean that there are no further concerns for estate planning. If your loved one does not currently have a living will in place, you may need to talk to them about developing one as soon as possible. Addressing estate planning issues now will make future transitions easier for everyone involved.

What is a living will, and what does it do?

You probably already understand what a last will is. It is a document that allows one person to bequeath possessions and assets to other people when their life ends. You may be less familiar with the term living will. After all, most people assume that wills are only necessary after someone dies.

However, not all debilitating conditions or medical emergencies result in death. Sometimes, they leave someone incapacitated. Incapacitation could mean living in a coma, unable to communicate. It could also mean a loss of mental faculties to the point where someone cannot make decisions on their own behalf anymore. A living will allows your loved one to plan for this kind of medical event.

Generally speaking, living wills include advance directives about medical preferences. Anything from organ donation to life support can factor into an advance directive. A living will can also include power of attorney documents. Your loved one may want to name someone, other than a spouse, who can make medical decisions on their behalf.

It is common to also have a limited financial power of attorney included. These documents allow someone to manage important financial considerations, such as paying bills or collecting rents on behalf of the incapacitated party.

Creating a living well gives everyone involved peace of mind

Do you really know what your loved one wants in the event that they are in the hospital and unable to communicate? Are you sure you can remember all the details of those preferences under the stress of a medical emergency? Talking to your loved one about creating a living will is important for their safety and your peace of mind.

A living will helps ensure that everyone involved understands the wishes of your loved one. It also helps you know that you are doing what they wanted in that situation. Putting off the creation of these documents can be a major mistake. Even if your loved one already has an estate plan and last well, it may be time to have a talk about creating a living will as well.