If you’ve looked into doing any estate planning, then you’ve likely heard the terminology “living will” thrown about. It’s also known as a health care directive as well.

No matter what name you call it, it has one primary purpose, which is to serve as a way for an individual to express his or her personal preferences as it relates to the medical care that he or she wishes to receive under specific circumstances. In most cases, a living will can only be invoked when the person who drafted it either becomes permanently unconscious or is unable to make his or her own decisions about the medical care as he or she suffers from a terminal illness.

What people have chosen to include in their health care directives has evolved over the years as more people have moved forward in drafting them.

Many currently use their wills to express their wishes as it relates to whether or not they want their organs to be donated upon their death and preferences regarding resuscitation and tube feeding.

Once verified as valid, doctors are bound to follow what’s described the patient’s wishes as outlined in the living will. This means that they may have to withhold treatment if certain conditions are met.

Choosing an individual to make potentially life-ending decisions for you is not the easiest thing to do. Knowing what decisions to make when you lack a thorough understanding of medicine and potential treatment options that are available is even more difficult.

When it comes to estate planning, having a living will drafted is critical to you maintaining control over your own health and legacy. If you are considering drafting a health care directive, then a Trenton estate planning and probate attorney can guide you through the process of doing so.

Source: FindLaw, “Living wills: Introduction,” accessed May 25, 2018