The Value of a Living Will

Posted on

May 12, 2020

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My doctor has a collage on one wall about the importance of Advance Directives, or Living Wills, regardless of ones age. An Advance Directive or Living Will is a document in which we each tell our loved ones how we want the end of our life to be handled when we are in a permanent unconscious or vegetative state, or have an end-stage of a medical condition, with no reasonable likelihood of significant recovery, do we we want to be resuscitated, tube fed, and such?
How will our loved ones know our wishes on these matters if we dont tell them? Its best to create an Advance Directive now, while we can decide for ourselves. As the doctors display said, End of life decisions should not be made at the end of life, and, For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story, and in stories, endings matter.
Age is not a factor in creating a Living Will; tragedy can strike at any age. The expense is low, but the peace of mind in knowing that when our time comes, we control the quality of our passing on is priceless.
Most of us know what medical decisions we want made at the end of our lives, but have we told our loved ones? If not, how will they know? As the display said: I have an advance directive, not because I have a serious illness, but because I have a family.
We always point out to our clients the options in their Living Will of deciding what, if any, extraordinary measures they want taken at the end of their lives. Once they select those options, they then must decide, should their instructions be binding on their families and providers, so their loved ones do not have to make those difficult decisions during a crisis, or do they want their loved ones to be able to override their decisions? Either way, they have expressed their desires to guide their loved ones.
So, start the conversation with your family. Communicate your wishes to them and have them communicate theirs to you. Then, go to an attorney and put those wishes on paper in an Advance Directive/Living Will, so that, when your time comes, all involved, including medical providers, know how you want the end of your life to be managed.
Editors Note: This article was submitted by Jeffrey R. Bellomo, Esquire, CELA

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