Why A Living Will Is Important In A Pandemic
Unlike most wills, which allow you to determine how your property and assets are distributed after your death, living wills have nothing to do with property–or even money. A living will is a document that you create while you are alive and well which outlines any wishes you have for your medical treatment in the event that you become fatally ill or incapacitated. In other words, a living will allow you to make medical decisions for yourself in advance, in case you are at some point unable to.
Why Make a Living Will?
In the event of serious illness or incapacitation, you will likely be unable to assert your will and make coherent medical decisions. In these cases, unless you have a living will or medical power of attorney, these decisions will likely be outsourced to your family. In high-stress situations, with the life of a loved one on the line, it can be hard for family members to come to a clear-headed and collaborative agreement. Additionally, family members often find it difficult to try and make decisions that you would have made for yourself; they may put their own religious views or opinions above physician’s advice, or, on the contrary, they may choose to follow medical advice in a bid to save your life, knowing that it violates your beliefs and the choices you would have made for yourself. Additionally, even in the most empathetic and supportive of families, making end-of-life decisions or even high-stakes life-saving decisions can be a huge emotional burden and a traumatic experience. No one wants to feel responsible for your death if they approve a surgery that ultimately isn’t successful.
Benefits of a Living Will in a Pandemic
During the Covid-19 pandemic many families have been tasked with having to make heartbreaking decisions about the care for their loved ones. Disagreements over whether to intubate or ventilate have torn families apart and added a great deal of stress and trauma to an already devastating time. By creating a living will, you take the burden of your care off of your family, while also ensuring that your wishes are honored. A living will allows you to make pandemic-specific decisions, such as whether you want to be ventilated, and what treatments and life-saving measures you would and wouldn’t approve. It also allows you to make decisions about things like blood transfusions, organ donation, and life-extending measures.
Of course, it’s hard to account for every possible scenario and decision. Luckily, a living will also gives you the option to appoint a trusted individual as your healthcare surrogate. This removes all doubt about who is responsible for making your healthcare decisions in the event that you become incapacitated. It also allows you to ensure that your medical decisions will be made by someone who you trust to act in your best interest, and gives them the right to make these decisions unchallenged by other family members.
Talk to a Wills, Trusts, and Estates Attorney
If you are interested in protecting your autonomy and ensuring that your wishes are followed, even when you can’t advocate for yourself, contact a West Palm Beach estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray and schedule a consultation today.