Although the word will is used as part of a living will, it really isn’t a will at all. Basically living wills, also known as inter vivos trusts, advance directives or healthcare directives, are documents that express the preferences and desires regarding medical treatments of a person in case they are later unable to communicate their wishes due to permanent unconsciousness or an illness that is terminal. Often they help people who want to avoid artificial life support as well as other more advanced medical procedures to sustain life so they can have a natural death. Today they also include things like organ donation, artificial resuscitation, and tube feeding as well. When these wills are valid, health care professionals are bound to carry out the instructions in the living will.
These wills are not just a choice for the sick or the elderly. They are an important choice for anyone, since anyone can end up dealing with accidents or sudden illnesses. Not convinced that you need a living will? Well, here are a few of the advantages of having a living will that may change your mind.
Advantage #1 – Refuse Treatments You Don’t Want – One of the main advantages of having a living will is that it allows you to refuse any treatments that you do not want. Perhaps you do not want artificial resuscitation or a feeding tube in certain cases. With your inter vivos trust you can specify the treatments that you do not want given to you. Some people feel that certain treatments are against their moral beliefs, and the living will gives them the opportunity to make sure they are not given these treatments in a time where they cannot voice their opinion and dissent.
Advantage #2 – You Know the Outcome – Having a living will also is advantageous because it allows you to know the outcome before it happens. You never know what type of accident could happen or what type of disease could attack your body. However, when you have your document in place, you can know what the outcome will be if you have one of these problems and can no longer make your own medical decisions.
Advantage #3 – Prevent Arguments Among Family Members – A living will can also help to prevent arguments among family members if something unfortunate happens to you. No doubt you have family that cares about you, and all of them may have different ideas of the best treatments if you are ill and unable to make your own decisions. The last thing you want is your family arguing about your treatments. So, having your healthcare directives in place totally eliminates any arguments that could occur with your family members.
Advantage #4 – Make Decisions Easy for Your Family – Making a decision about a dying loved on or a permanently ill loved one can be so hard for the family. It can be a lot of pressure to make these kinds of decisions. However, when you have your living will done, your family will not have to make the decisions for you, which makes it so much easier for them.
Advantage #5 – Insure Doctors Follow Your Wishes – No doubt you want to be sure that your doctors follow your wishes in the end. With an advance directive, you can insure that your doctors do follow your wishes and that they don’t just do what they feel is best for you. This allows you to be in control of the decisions made instead of the doctor.
Advantage #6 – Authorize Treatments You May Want Given – While a living will allows you to refuse treatments, it also can help you to authorize treatments that you may want given to you as well. There are many medical treatments that require authorization from the patient, and you may be in a position where you cannot do this; however, if you have the authorization in your will for certain treatments, it can insure you get the treatment you need.
Advantage #7 – Eliminate Financial Encumbrance for Your Family – Often people who end up with permanent illnesses end up needed long time care, which can be very expensive. Some people prefer not to leave this type of financial encumbrance on their family. With your living will, you can choose options that will eliminate financial encumbrance for your family so you don’t have to worry about them searching for financial resources to help pay for your treatment and care.
So, I hope that explains what a living will is and why it is a good idea to have one.