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CA estate lawyerA living will, which you may also hear called an “advance directive,” is one legal document that everyone should have. In the event that you are not able to express your wishes due to injury or illness, a living will can be used to govern what types of medical care you will receive. It is important to make a living will, because it is the best way you can make your wishes known in advance. This document generally covers things like whether you would want to be resuscitated, or receive life-prolonging care if you are terminally ill. An attorney can help you decide what provisions to include in your living will and other healthcare planning documents.

What Does a Living Will Include?

A living will makes your wishes known regarding the types of medical treatment you do or do not want in the event that you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions. It may include provisions related to:

  • Power of Attorney - A living will can include a Healthcare Power of Attorney, or a Healthcare Power of Attorney can be made separately. A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to designate a person who you would want to make medical decisions for you if you are unable. You can limit your designated person’s powers, and they will still have to respect your other choices outlined in your living will.
  • Life-Prolonging Treatment - Many people would not want to receive treatment that would prolong their life should they become terminally ill, preferring instead to experience a natural death.
  • Pain Management - You can choose to include provisions specifying what types of pain management and other comfort measures you would like to receive.
  • Organ Donation - If you would like to make an anatomical gift (donate organs) after you have passed away, you can indicate this in a living will. You have choices about what types of anatomical gifts you would like to make, and how they should be used. For example, you may declare that you are willing to have your organs used for transplants, but not for research purposes.
  • Designating Healthcare Professionals - In a living will, you can name the physician you would prefer to have treat you if possible.

Not all provisions will be enforceable in all cases, but advance directives help your healthcare team and your loved ones alike understand your wishes.

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