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Why You Need to Start Thinking About a Living Will, Even if You’re Only 18

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With today’s medical advances, life support can keep a person’s body alive for months, or even years, even if their brain is no longer fully functioning. This can force a person to live incapacitated and in pain for much longer than they wish if they don’t have documentation in place to keep such situations from happening. That is where a living will comes in.

A living will is a legal document that allows a person to specify what end-of-life medical procedures they want to be subjected to. You will be allowed to choose whether you want any life-prolonging measures taken if you face a terminal condition or an accident. Unlike a regular will, a living will does not involve your personal property or estate, it deals only with your end of life wishes.

Who should have a living will? 

In Florida, every competent adult had the right to determine for themselves what decisions will be made regarding their health and whether they want measures taken to prolong their life when they have a terminal condition. Even though we don’t like to think about terminal illness and accidents at a young age, it is recommended that anyone age 18 or older execute a living will. A living will allows you to state what medical procedures you prefer, as well as designate a person to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated, whether from an accident or illness.

Why you need a living will. 

There are a number of reasons you should have a living will. Not only does it allow you to document and clarify your wishes at the end of your life, but it also takes away the guessing game and pressure that would be placed on your family if you didn’t have such a document in place.

This document will allow you to clarify the treatment that you want to have. If something happens to you, do you want doctors to take every measure possible to keep you alive, or do you want them to cease life support if nothing will give you back the life you once enjoyed? A living will is a set of instructions that explains to your loved ones and medical personnel exactly how you want to be treated if you become unable to make the decisions yourself.

While some people worry a living will may keep doctors from performing life saving measures if your illness or accident doesn’t create a terminal condition, that’s simply not the case. It is meant to guide doctors in a situation where you cannot ever be cured, not just in six months, but ever. Your living will only goes into effect essentially when you are already deceased, except the face that life support is keeping you alive.

Have you told your family about your end of life wishes? Having a conversation about such things isn’t the easiest thing to do, but they need to know. A living will provides peace of mind to your family knowing that they won’t have to decide what you might have wanted because you will have already put your wishes in writing. Even if your family knows, in times of stress, they may not remember, and a living will gives them the guidance they need to be sure your final wishes are handled the way you would have wanted.

How to execute a living will.

Under Florida law, a living will has to be signed by the person executing the document as well as in the presence of two witnesses, of which one cannot be a blood relative or spouse. Because of this requirement, an experienced attorney like David Toback is your best option for legally executing a living will that can be upheld in court if necessary. Giving copies to your physician, hospital, family members, and keeping one with you and your attorney are recommended.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0765/0765.html

health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/12/19/why-you-need-a-living-will-even-at-age-18

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