In these difficult and trying times, we are all currently going through with the coronavirus, we are reminded of how fragile life can be. Estate planning can be a touchy subject as no one really enjoys discussing their mortality. However, as we see through the effects of the virus, it is something that can help relieve a lot of stress and provide a sense of control and action that we all need right now. In this blog, we look at the benefits of a living will, a healthcare representative, and the difference between the two.
Living wills are governed by statutory code. A living will allows an individual to make a decision regarding whether they would like to use life-prolonging procedures in the event that the individual becomes terminally incapacitated. Specifically, if a person:
- has an incurable injury, disease, or illness;
- their death will occur within a short time; and
- the use of life-prolonging procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process
then that person, through a living will, can direct medical personnel to use the life-longing procedures, or to refuse life-longing procedures. Without a living will, this decision is left up to the family. A living will can help prevent your family from having to make such a hard decision.
A healthcare representative, on the other hand, is a person you can nominate to make health-related decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. A healthcare representative can do things like make decisions such as which doctor to use on your behalf, receive your healthcare information, sign documents on your behalf, etc. In the unfortunate event that you become incapacitated, such as going into a coma, having someone you trust in place to make decisions on your behalf can be critical.
You may be wondering, what is the difference between the two? In a nutshell, a living will only comes into play if the three conditions above are met and only relates to your decision as to whether to use life-prolonging procedures. Conversely, a healthcare representative is an individual who makes decisions while you are incapacitated, but not necessarily terminally ill. It is best practice to put both in place.
While it is tough to talk about, you need to plan for the unforeseen event that your health quickly and suddenly deteriorates. As we have all been reminded lately, life is short and unpredictable. Creating a Living Will and nominating a healthcare representative can help prevent further heartache, as well as make it a little easier on others around you. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all areas of estate planning, including Living Wills and Healthcare Representatives. It is written and posted for general educational purposes and is not to be construed as legal advice or solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.