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Living Wills

What is a Living Will?

Not to be confused with a “Testamentary Will”, a “Living Will” is a legal declaration that lets you state your wishes for end-of-life medical care, in case you become incapable of communicating your wishes. It is called a Living Will because it is in effect while you are alive. It has no power after death.   Since you won’t be able to anticipate and declare instructions for every possible future decision, it is often helpful to grant a medical power of attorney to someone who will make decisions on your behalf for issues not covered in your instructions.

Advance Health Care Directives

Patients who suffer a terminal injury or illness can sometimes be kept alive through medical procedures and life support machines. To some families, these life sustaining techniques are a great benefit. However, many people do not wish to be kept alive in this manner. The three most common reasons that someone may not wish to be preserved by medical intervention are 1) for religious reason, 2) high medical costs, and 3) the desire to avoid the pain associated with a terminal condition. California law provides that an individual can make health care decision in advance of an event where the patient is unable to voice consent or disagreement to the various options.

The advanced health care directive provides detailed instructions and preferences for the type of care that you wish to receive should you become incapacitated. I recommend to my clients that they provide as much detail into this document as possible so that the persons with medical power of attorney will be spared the anguish of having to make life and death decisions. Instead, explicitly detailing your wishes will remove the uncertainty over how such decisions should be made.

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