Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for educational purposes only. If you need legal advice with respect to how to write a will or living will, you should seek professional assistance.
Living Wills are also referred to as Health Care Power of Attorneys. They are documents which allow the grantor to designate someone (called an “Agent” or “Attorney”) who will have the authority to make health-care decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so due to some form of incapacitation (e.g. unconscious, mentally incompetent, etc.). So the Living Will say something like: “This Living Will be in effect when, and only when, I am unable to communicate my own decisions through speaking, writing, or gesturing”. Read more here.
Substitute Agent or Attorney
Typically, the grantor will name a substitute Agent or Attorney just in case the one he or she selected is unable (e.g. they have passed away, they are mentally incapable of doing it, they cannot be located, they are sick) or unwilling (e.g. they resign, etc.) to do it. From a risk perspective, it makes sense to have a substitute agent or attorney.
Powers of Agent or Attorney
Next, the Living will spell out the exact powers which the grantor is providing to the Agent or Attorney. This could include things like the authority to: sign documents, permissions, or waivers; review and disclose medical records, hire and discharge caregivers, authorize admission to or release from hospitals and other medical facilities; and to consent to, refuse consent, or withdraw consent to any form of health care or treatment.
Last Intentions/Final Wishes
Finally, the Living Will allows you to express your last intentions. People who decide to have Living Wills generally want to be kept on life support by artificial means up to a certain point and then want their Agent or Attorney to make the decision for them to be removed from life support to die in a dignified manner. They stipulate that they want pain control medication when necessary and also note that no efforts should be made to resuscitate them after their life ends. This is typical of the type of instructions left by the grantor and which the Agent or Attorney is charged with.
Overall, having a Living Will makes sense if you want to prepare for the unexpected and have your last wishes and intentions known. Having a Living Will also mitigates against the difficulties families and friends go through to see their loved ones incapacitated in the hospital with no notions of recovering. It provides closure by allowing Agents or Attorneys to carry on the last wishes of the grantor and allow the family and friends of the grantor to have closure. More explained in this post: http://www.stearnscoppins.com/health-care-lawyer-said-against-lowball-settlements/
Once again, if you need information and quotes on having a lawyer prepare your Living Will, you should go to Dynamic Lawyers and make a post (100% free and anonymous). Local lawyers will respond to you with free information and quotes by email. It’s up to you to follow up with those wills and estates lawyers of your choice.