People in California have a right to live their lives how they want and on their own terms, which is why the thought of being incapacitated and unable to make decisions is such a scary proposition for many people. A person who is incapacitated or not of sound mind due to disease or disability may not be able to communicate effectively, if at all, leaving himself or herself and their loved ones in a difficult position. This is where a living will can make a world of difference.
The living will sets out a person's wishes in case he or she becomes unable to make health care decisions, including the use of life support, medication and other types of treatment. In addition, one might want to name a health care proxy, which is a power of attorney specifically for health care purposes. It names the person who will be tasked with the responsibility of making sure the wishes of the living will are followed. A person also may wish to take this opportunity to address other concerns, such as funeral arrangements and creating powers of attorney for financial and other legal matters. With the help of an experienced California estate planning attorney, all of these issues can be addressed in the proper legal documents and disseminated to those who need to know about them, including relatives, representatives and health care providers.
A living will is a crucial legal document, but, shockingly, less than one out of every three people in the United States has one in place. No, incapacitation is not the most pleasant subject to address with loved ones and estate planning attorneys, but every person's estate plan should include directives in case the unthinkable happens. It could mean the difference between dying with dignity or leaving your loved ones to anguish over one of life's toughest decisions.
Source: U.S. News & World Report "5 Questions to Ask Before Writing a Living Will," Geoff Williams, Oct. 7, 2014