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Should you add a living will to your estate plan?

As you age, you’re more likely to think about your future health and well-being. For example, you may have questions about what will happen to your assets in the event of incapacity and who will make important decisions on your behalf.

You’re not required to add a living will to your estate plan, but it can give you peace of mind in regard to the type of treatment you receive in the event of a serious illness or injury.

With a living will in place, your health care team will have a clear idea of the type of treatment you want to receive if you’re unable to personally communicate your desires.

Here are some of the benefits of creating a living will:

  • You have the ability to make important medical decisions when you’re 100 percent healthy
  • You take the stress off your loved ones, as they don’t have to make these decisions on your behalf during a very stressful time
  • You can name a person in your living will to speak for you if you’re faced with a terminal condition

Whether or not you create a living will depends on many factors, including your willingness to answer a variety of difficult questions regarding your health.

Some of the things you have to address include:

  • When you want your living will to kick in
  • What type of treatment you want to receive, and what type of treatment you want to turn down
  • The financial cost of extending your life when there is not much hope (or any) of making a recovery
  • The emotional impact on your family of prolonging your life (without any quality of life)

Note: Don’t confuse a living will with a regular will, as these two documents are different. A regular will is designed to ensure that your assets are passed along to the right person or people upon your death, among a variety of other reasons. Furthermore, it doesn’t go into effect until you pass on.

It’s never easy to think about a serious injury or illness that wouldn’t allow you to communicate with your medical team, but this could happen. If you want to protect yourself and your loved ones, the creation of a living will is a good place to start.

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