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The importance of having a living will

Oklahoma residents might benefit from gaining a better understanding about the importance having a living will as part of their overall estate planning. It has been suggested that adults as young as 18 ought to consider investing time in establishing such a document. A living will sets forth the maker's wishes concerning medical care and treatment should he or she be incapacitated and thus unable to make them when needed.

The indiscriminate nature of sudden illnesses, injuries and accidents justifies the reasoning associated with preparing a living will, also known as an advance directive at an early age. If a person does becomes terminally ill or has their capacity significantly diminished, the trusted individual named therein as the health care proxy can carry out the wishes of the maker as to whether or not resuscitation or other life-support measures should be attempted. Having specifics in writing can ease the burden guilt may add on to immediate family members or other relatives dealing with a sudden loss or emergency involving the maker.

These documents are designed to help patients instruct doctors of their legally enforceable wishes while they are otherwise unable to do so. In most cases, two doctors need to concur in a belief that the maker is terminally ill before the living will becomes effective.

People who need more information about living wills might benefit from contacting a lawyer who has experience in estate planning matters. Legal counsel may be effective in drafting such a document in order to help ensure that the advance directive will be legally binding in the event of the client's future incapacity, and can also help prepare other estate planning documents that may be advisable.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Why You Need a Living Will - Even at Age 18", Amir Kahn, Dec. 19, 2014

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