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Should I Start a Living Will



Are you concerned about protecting your ability to make decisions regarding your medical care? What will happen if you become terminally ill or are in a prolonged state of unconsciousness? It may be impossible to communicate your preferences. Fortunately, you can plan ahead by creating a living will that will tell your physicians to withhold or provide life prolonging treatments.

What Types of Treatments Can a Living Will Authorize or Restrict?

The creator of a living will can decline or authorize treatments that may extend life. Some life prolonging treatments are artificial respiration, feeding or hydration tubes, blood transfusions, dialysis and surgery. The creator can authorize some life prolonging treatments and refuse others if desired.

Who Should Have a Living Will?

People do not approach life anticipating a terminal illness or tragic accident that may make it difficult for them to communicate. Anyone can become a victim of an illness that is terminal. Even a healthy, young, person can suffer from a terminal diagnosis or tragic accident. According to these accident statistics, accidents cause 35 percent of teenage deaths. Some of these accidents result in a prolonged vegetative state. Thus, if you have the mental capacity and are legally independent, 18 years old, or an adult, you should make a living will.

Once You Decide to Make a Living Will, What Should You Do?

Once you recognize that you need a living will, should you attempt to create a living will yourself? Should you use an estate planning lawyer? What happens if your living will does not follow the requirements your state mandates? State laws vary regarding the content of the living will, but the language cannot be ambiguous. The maker must sign his living will. States vary in their requirements regarding witnesses or whether a notary public must authenticate the signature. If your living will does not adhere to your state's requirements, your wishes may not be followed.

A living will can ensure that a physician will follow your medical preferences, even if you cannot communicate. Given the unpredictability of the future, you should make creating a living will a priority.

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