Knowing About a Living Will

Bankruptcy attorney Benjamin Ginter, who runs the Law Offices of Benjamin J. Ginter in Cranford, New Jersey and also does wills, talks here about what a living will really means.

Advance healthcare directives are written regarding your medical care. The person chosen will carry out these instructions if you’re unable to make your own healthcare decisions. Anyone aged 18 or older may prepare an advance directive. There are several types of directives, one of which is a living will. It basically empowers one person to make the healthcare decisions for another person.

Having a living will The idea whether or not to pull the plug when you are lying in a vegetative state scares most of us. That’s why it’s important to have a living will to spare your relatives having to make these life-or-death decisions. Also called an advanced healthcare directive, a living will makes sure your wishes are carried out to the letter.

A living will is a written, legal document, which spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and do not want, such as mechanical breathing (respiration and ventilation), tube feeding, and resuscitation. It is also known as a health care declaration or health care directive.

Living wills have proved popular, with almost 45% of all Americans today having one, according to estimates. If you are interested in making one yourself, talk to a qualified local attorney with experience to make sure it is confidential and exactly what you want.

Medical power of attorney (POA) This is also called a durable power of attorney for health care or a health care agent or proxy. The medical POA form designates an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you’re unable to do so. These forms allow your health care agent or proxy to use a living will as a guide, but interpret your wishes when unexpected developments aren’t specifically addressed in your living will.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to always account for every situation that may occur. It is important to understand that the medical POA document is different from the power of attorney form that authorizes someone to make financial transactions for you. If you don’t appoint a medical POA, decisions about your care default to your spouse. If you aren’t legally married, decisions fall to your adult children or your parents. 

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