By Sam O’Neill

A common question we run into when discussing an estate plan is, “Do I need a living will?” For many, contemplating end-of-life decisions may not be the most comfortable topic, but it is undeniably important.

What is a Living Will?

A living will, also known as a declaration or advance directive, is a legal document that outlines your preferences for end-of-life medical treatment in case you become unable to communicate your own decisions. It serves as a guide for medical providers and your loved ones, ensuring that your end-of-life wishes are honored.

Why Consider a Living Will?

  1. Empowerment in Decision-Making

A living will empowers you to state your preferences in writing regarding end-of-life medical treatment that you want or do not want, including life-sustaining interventions, resuscitation, and organ donation. By doing so, you take an active role in shaping the medical care you receive, even when you are unable to express your wishes to medical providers.

  1. Relieves Burden on Loved Ones

In the absence of a living will, family members may face difficult decisions about your medical care when you are unable to provide your own directions to medical providers. Having a living will relieve your family members of the burden of making difficult choices regarding your care and can help eliminate conflict between your family members.

  1. Peace of Mind

Your living will serves as a roadmap for medical providers, ensuring that they deliver care consistent with your values and beliefs. It helps avoid medical interventions that may not align with your wishes and provides you with more control over your end-of-life treatment. A living will can be updated periodically to ensure the living will follows your wishes if your personal circumstances change over time. It also provides peace of mind that your end-of-life medical decisions are made by you and documented for the benefit of those that you care about.

The question of whether you need a living will is personal but should be considered by anyone making or updating an estate plan. However, considering the potential benefits, many individuals find that having a living will in place brings a sense of control and peace of mind. If you have any questions regarding a living will, gaining the assistance of an estate planning attorney can be beneficial. Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman LLP has been assisting families with estate planning since 1944. Contact Sam O’Neill at [email protected] for more information.