The thought alone of creating a living will may be enough to scare you away from doing so. However, if you remain calm and consider the benefits, you may come to find that it's one of the best additions to your estate plan.
A living will is a legal document that outlines the medical treatments you wish to receive (or not receive), should you be unable to communicate your thoughts to your medical team.
The primary benefit of a living will is that you can make these important decisions when you're healthy enough to think them through. That way, you don't have any concerns about receiving treatment you don't want in the event of incapacitation.
What should it include?
There is no right or wrong way to create a living will, but there are some things that most people include. Here are five medical decisions to think about:
- The use of a feeding tube: This provides the body with nutrients through a tube into the stomach or an IV. Decide if you're okay with this treatment, and if so, for how long.
- Mechanical ventilation: If you're unable to breathe on your own, your medical team can use mechanical ventilation to keep you alive.
- CPR: If you stop breathing for any reason, CPR can help restart your heart. Some people are okay with this, while others would rather not have an electric shock bring them back to life.
- Palliative care: This includes a variety of treatments to manage pain and keep you comfortable when facing a serious illness or injury. For example, you may want to outline your wishes to die in your own home.
- Donating your body to science: If this interests you, speak with your doctor about who you can contact to make arrangements. For example, a local medical school may be able to help you register.
When creating an estate plan, don't spend all your time thinking about who will receive your assets upon your death. Instead, focus some of your attention on end of life care, such as through the creation of a living will.
Once you know what you want to include in your living will, you can then create this written document. From there, you'll feel much better about your ability to receive the right type of treatment should the time come.