A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that you can create to show your loved ones how you want your life handled if you become incapacitated due to injury, trauma, disease or other health conditions. We never know what the future holds for our lives; a living will allows you to take the burden of difficult decision-making off your loved ones if you become seriously ill and unable to make decisions for yourself. A living will is a proactive measure to direct your loved ones about how and when to continue medical treatment for you.
Some people strongly oppose artificial life-sustaining measures such as life support, tube feeding, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, dialysis, palliative care, etc., because it simply prolongs the inevitable. If you feel this way, you can state in your living will that you do not want this type of medical care – or that you only want it for a specific amount of time. Your living will can also outline if you want to be an organ or tissue donor or if you would like to donate your body for scientific research.
Executor vs. Agent in a Durable Power of Attorney
As the name suggests, a living will goes into effect while you are still living but unable to communicate yourself. Therefore, it is important to appoint a person to carry out your wishes. Rather than being called an executor (like the person who carries out your wishes from a will or trust), a living will is often accompanied by a medical durable power of attorney (MPOA) document. This can also be called a medical power of attorney. The person you name as agent in your MPOA should be someone you trust explicitly to carry out the decisions you have made. In some cases it may be more appropriate to appoint someone outside your immediate family – someone who will not be swayed by their personal feelings and their own end-of-life wishes for you. This person will also be tasked with making decisions on your behalf that may not be covered in your living will.
Keep in mind that a living will is a dynamic document that should be reviewed and updated often to revise your medical care choices.
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. Our experienced team knows the right questions to ask you to get you thinking about who in your life would be an appropriate medical power of attorney. Call (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to learn more.