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Finances | February 1, 2023
When you first hear the term living will, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to assume it’s a document similar to a last will and testament. In actuality, these two sets of instructions work to ensure very different end-of-life wishes. While a last will and testament ensure an individual’s property is settled in the manner they desire after their passing, a living will for seniors allows them to state their wishes for end-of-life medical care.
Sometimes referred to as a directive to physicians or advance directive, a living will instruct family members, caregivers, and healthcare professionals what type of treatment a person wants if they are no longer able to communicate their wishes. If you’re helping a parent with their estate planning, or even drafting your own, a living will can be an invaluable asset. By planning ahead, an individual can minimize the decision-making burden put on family members and caregivers while still ensuring they receive the medical care they desire.
In the U.S., the requirements and procedures to ensure a living will is valid and legally binding differ from state to state. Given that the process for creating these legal documents is dependent on where someone lives, it’s important to know what their state requires regarding signatures, witnesses, and notarization before getting started.
Once signed, a living will for seniors can take effect at any time. Even when in effect, however, doctors will prioritize personal communication, not a living will, for as long as possible. An advance directive like a living will only influence an individual’s medical treatment when it has been determined that the individual can no longer communicate their medical wishes.
Once a living will has been created, an individual should:
There are a number of potential end-of-life medical treatments that often get addressed in a living will. Pain management, organ donation, and palliative care are among some of the more common treatments you will find in these documents. Doctors will often suggest that a living will cover the following treatments:
When going through the process of documenting someone’s wishes for each end-of-life treatment, it is important to focus on the role each intervention would play in that individual’s overall quality of life. Do they want treatment to extend their life no matter the situation? Do they want treatment only if there is a potential solution? How long do they want to receive certain treatments? These are all questions that should be considered before drafting a living will.
Our lives can change at any time. New health diagnoses, living situations, and medical advancements may impact how someone views certain end-of-life treatments. Luckily, living wills can be adjusted at any time to accommodate an individual’s evolving wishes.
Individuals will want to review and revise their living will when one of the following situations occurs:
If an individual does choose to revise their living will, it is important to remember to check specific state requirements. This will ensure the revised will is legally binding and allowed to replace any previously submitted versions.
Whether you’re helping your parents with their senior journey or navigating your own, it isn’t always easy to traverse the complexities of later life and plan for the unknown. Trying to determine the right senior living solution? National Church Residences takes an individual approach to support seniors and help them live a healthier, more satisfying lifestyle. Find out which senior living options are in your area or give us a call at 844-465-6063 to talk to one of our friendly staff members today.
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As your loved one ages, it’s essential to manage their affairs with a financial checklist. Here are some important legal documents for seniors.
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Learn how a living will can help ensure seniors receive their desired end-of-life medical care.
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