If you’ve created a will while you are still living, you’ve created a living will, right?
Wrong. A living will serves a different purpose than a traditional will.
A will is a legal document that allows you to specify how and to whom you want your estate – all of your personal belongings and money – distributed after you die. A will only goes into effect after you pass away.
In contrast, a living will goes into effect while you are still living. It’s a way for you to plan ahead for any future emergency that may occur. Let’s say you get into an accident or fall victim to a disease that leaves you incapacitated – one that makes it impossible for you to communicate with your loved ones or your doctors. There are many different medical technologies and procedures that can be performed to keep you alive – even if you are in a coma or unable to speak, feed yourself, etc. If this type of unthinkable situation were to occur, your family would have to make extremely difficult decisions about your care: how long to keep you on life support, provide artificial feeding, etc. Often, family members may not agree on the decisions being made, causing a rift within the family.
For example, your parents may want you to receive every type of life support measure available, for as long as it can be administered. However, you know in your heart that you would not want to burden your family with the expense and emotional drain that this could cause. Creating a living will allows you to specify exactly what types of life support, tube feeding, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, dialysis, palliative care, etc., you want (or do not want) administered to you. You may also state that you want certain measures done for only a limited amount of time. Your living will can be very specific if you wish.
Rather than allowing your family to make those decisions for you, you will have been proactive in creating a life plan for yourself in the event you cannot communicate those wishes. The medical power of attorney you designate will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are carried out.
Changing a Living Will
As times goes on, you may actually change your mind about certain life-sustaining procedures. That’s why it is so important to review your living will regularly and make changes when needed to reflect your new ideas about end-of-life medical care.
The Denver estate planning lawyers at Brown & Crona, LLC can help you draft a living will in Colorado and help you understand your options for end-of-life treatment. We can also help you create a traditional will in Colorado. Call (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to learn more.