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Should a living will be part of your estate plan?

It is never easy to plan for the future, especially when it pertains to your own health care and potential medical problems you could face as you move through life. However, having a good, thoughtful estate plan in place can eliminate some of the stress regarding these sensitive matters.

Every Maryland family could benefit from having an estate plan. This makes certain issues easier for your family in case of incapacitation, but it also provides you peace of mind knowing that you get to decide what happens to your assets and to determine what kind of health care you want. As part of your complete estate plan, you may find it beneficial to consider the benefits of a living will.

What does a living will do?

In reality, a living will is not actually a will. Sometimes called a health care directive, this document outlines your wishes for the type of care you want and the medical directives that you wish to receive in case you are in a position where you cannot make those decisions for yourself. These can be as specific and detailed as you wish, allowing you to include directions for specific issues, including:

  • Intubation
  • Organ donation
  • Resuscitation

These documents also allow you the opportunity to reject certain types of medical treatments while accepting others. Due to the complex nature of medical issues and the sensitive nature of making grave medical decisions for yourself, you may find it beneficial to have both legal and medical guidance when drafting a living will.

A living will in conjunction with a health care power of attorney

Some people may find it useful to have a health care power of attorney as well. This designates a person as the authority to ensure that doctors and family members carry out your wishes specified in the living will. It can also designate a person to act on your behalf in case of incapacitation.

The factors of your complete estate plan

No two estate plans are the same, and yours should meet your legal objectives while still allowing you to plan for your unique needs. If you do not have a living will, you may benefit from considering adding it as part of your plan. If you are not sure about what you need to include in your estate plan, it could be prudent for you to seek a complete explanation of both your rights and options.

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