End-of-life decisions are complicated,which is why they require proper planning today to ensure that they will be carried out when the time comes. This is especially important when it comes to decisions about the type of care and treatment you wish to receive – or not receive.
Like it or not, there may come a time when you will not be “available” to communicate your wishes regarding medical care. What happens at that point will depend, in large part, on whether you have provided instructions about your treatment – and how clear those instructions are.
Medical directives and living wills are documents designed to speak for you and make your wishes known when you are unable to speak for yourself. So have you executed your medical directive and living will? And if you have, are they documents that you created on your own or downloaded from the internet? If your answer is ‘yes,’ you might want to reconsider that move.
Bloomberg recently published an article called “The Right Way to Craft a Living Will” that discouraged taking the self-help approach to this essential component of your estate planning. It is important to know there is a “right way to craft a living will” and it does involve more than simply signing on the dotted line of a pre-printed form.
One all-too-common mistake many people make is to sign a medical directive and living will without completely understanding what it says, or to simply put it in a drawer (or even in their doctor’s
medical file) without discussing it with loved ones, and then think everything is taken care of.
Unfortunately, written documents (particularly those “one size fits all” forms found online) can be vague and open to misinterpretation. So in addition to making sure that you understand everything
your document says, and that it accurately expresses your specific wishes, you need to share your wishes with your loved ones to avoid any confusion.
You should appoint a trusted family member or friend to be your health care agent to guide the
decision-making process if and when the time comes. You should also make sure that your agent understands the wishes your documents are intended to convey so your loved ones won’t have
to “interpret” the documents in a time of crisis.
For more information about how to create an effective and understandable Medical Directive and Living Will, or for answers to your other estate planning questions, contact us at Peak Legal
Group to schedule a complimentary estate planning consultation.
(April 9, 2013) “The Right Way to Craft a Living Will”