If you are one of the many who has never given estate planning a whole lot of thought the term probably conjures images in your mind of the classic estate planning document that you hear people talk about in the old movies: the “last will and testament.” Most people are aware of the fact that these documents are used to elucidate your wishes with regard to the distribution of your assets after death. Traditionally the “will” was used to distribute real property, and the “testament” was used to articulate the desired distribution of personal property, but at this point the single term “will” generally suffices.
There is however another commonly recommended type of will called the living will. Unlike the standard last will and testament the wishes that are communicated in a living will come into play while the testator is still alive. Through the execution of a living will you state your preferences with regard to the types of medical procedures that you would be willing to accept those that you would prefer to refuse if you were to fall into a medical condition that precluded your ability to communicate your decisions in real time.
The issue of whether or not you want to be kept alive through the use of artificial means if you were to fall into a terminal or persistent vegetative condition is at the core of many living wills. However you can be as specific and detailed as you would like to be with the document, and it could be argued that the execution of such an advance health care directive is truly a must for adults of all ages.
You never know what the future holds and accidents and sudden illnesses can befall people in the blink of an eye. If your wishes are not known your family members can find themselves in an excruciating position, disagreements can arise at the worst possible time, and your treatment may not proceed in the matter that you have chosen had you taken the time to state your preferences.