What Are Living Will, and Why Should You Have One?

What is life? When does death begin? Is there anything in between?

Some of the biggest conflicts of the past few generations have revolved around these questions. One of the biggest conflicts regarding this issue was the Terri Schiavo case of 1990-2005.

The case involved a young woman named Terri Schiavo who suffered cardiac arrest at the age of 26. The cardiac arrest resulted in significant brain damage, making her dependent on machines to survive. The case revolved under when it was acceptable to remove life support.

The other major issue in the case was the lack of any documented living wills. What is a living will, though, and when should you have one? We’ll discuss that in this article.

What is a Living Will?

Despite their name, living wills are not wills and aren’t valid in the event of your death. For this reason, they’re often also called medical directives or advanced directives.

Terminology aside, these documents make important decisions regarding your healthcare in the event that you lose the capacity to make such decisions on your own.

Perhaps the most important of these decisions is whether or not you wish to be put on life support if you’re unable to survive on your own.

Why Should I Make a Living Will?

In the field of probate law, certified documents made by the person in question are invaluable. The whole point of probate law is to follow the wishes of the deceased or incapacitated as closely as possible, so living wills and similar documents are almost impossible to dispute.

These documents reduce the likelihood of any legitimate claims being pressed against them, which can spare those close to you a lot of grief and money.

Keep in mind that while you can write your own living will, it’s best to study up on probate litigation or contact a probate lawyer just to be safe. In many cases, they can give you a sort of form letter, which states the conditions of a living will and simply requires a few final details to be valid.

How Common are Living Wills?

How common are living wills? The answer is a bit confusing. Living wills aren’t common among the general population. Only one out of every four people have them.

However, the sentiment behind living wills is far more prevalent, as evidenced by a 2011 study of the frequency of Do Not Resuscitate orders among patients in various medical settings. Over a third of nursing home residents had some sort of DNR in place, and this percentage doubled for those over 85.

Living Wills: When Should You Have One

Whether people use living wills or not is entirely their decision. There’s no way to advise one way or the other because it’s a matter of personal preference. The best anyone can do is help you make an informed decision.

That’s why we’ve talked about living wills in this article. However, there’s always more to learn when it comes to the law. You can learn more by visiting our site.


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