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3 Reasons to Write a Living Will in 2017: Tacoma Estate Planning Lawyer

February 16th, 2017 Estate Planning

The New Year provides of us the opportunity to reflect on the past year and make changes. Many of us establish resolutions or personal goals to improve our health, lifestyle, or finances. As we head into 2017, make a New Year’s commitment to complete your estate planning. If you haven’t already created a comprehensive estate plan, this is the year to start one. Estate planning may not be a fun topic to discuss, but it’s important conversation that everyone must have with their loved ones.

Notebook and fountain pen on a table

One of the key pieces of a comprehensive estate plan is a living will. A living will or healthcare directive is a legal document that provides instructions on your preferences for medical care if you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. Unlike a traditional will, which outlines how you would like to distribute assets after you have passed away, a living will gives authority to medical practitioners to implement or cease a life-sustaining procedure or treatment.

In addition to a living will, we highly recommend having a durable power of attorney for health care. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that names a person as your health care agent. They are responsible for making medical decisions in the event of an emergency. Even though your living will outlines your medical wishes, it can’t cover every circumstance or situation. Having both documents will ensure that your wishes will be honored if you’re incapacitated.

Our team at Law Offices of David Smith shares our top three reasons to write a living will in 2017.

Reason #1 Autonomy: Whether it supports our religious, spiritual or personal beliefs, we all have our own philosophies regarding end-of-life care. A living will ultimately allow you to make important medical decisions, even if you’re unable to communicate them. You can make changes or revoke your living will at any time if your beliefs change.

Reason #2 Preparation: Life-threatening accidents or illnesses can happen to anyone at any age—this is an unavoidable aspect of life. It’s irresponsible to presume that you don’t need a living will because you are currently healthy and don’t have a terminal illness. According to the American Psychological Association, only 25% of Americans have a living will. We believe that every adult should establish a living will as a preventative measure.

Reason #3 Avoiding Family Conflicts: Without a living will, it’s not uncommon for family members of the incapacitated individual to have disagreements regarding medical care. A living will can help avoid potential arguments between your loved ones and avoid extensive and complicated ligation.

The case of Terri Schiavo demonstrates the conflicts that can occur without a living will. Schiavo was kept artificially alive in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years. Since Schiavo didn’t have a living will, Schiavo’s parents and her husband fought in court for years, until her husband finally won the case to have her feeding tube removed.

If you need assistance with establishing your comprehensive estate plan, contact Tacoma’s Law Offices of David Smith today. We are here to provide expert legal counsel and personal attention to your unique case. We can help you create a customized living will, along with our important estate planning documents, such as a traditional or last will and a living trust.