Estate planning involves much more than a Trust or Last Will and Testament. Several other documents need to be prepared to fully ensure your estate planning needs are covered.

These include a power of attorney, as well as a living will or advanced care directives. A living will may not seem like something that is of major importance unless you believe you will be undergoing any medical procedure in the future. However, everyone needs this important document.

What is a Living Will?

Unlike a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will is a document that is used during your lifetime. Living wills allow you to instruct people how you wish to be cared for in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your health.

It details your “living wishes,” essentially, meaning what treatment you want to receive and what options you would like exercised for your end of life care. Do you want all options exhausted to keep you alive, or do you not want to remain on life support? Several items are considered within the living will document and each are important to review and answer.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

When most people think of a living will, they think of a “DNR” or do not resuscitate clause. This designation is a legal order that tells medical professionals to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event your heart stops.

If you go into a hospital and have a “DNR,” it is imperative you inform them so that they know how to care for you in the event of cardiac arrest.

Do Not Intubate (DNI)

Another designation is known as a “DNI” or do not intubate, and this tells medical professionals that you do not want a breathing tube inserted in your throat in the event you can no longer breathe on your own and are put on a ventilator.

However, you need to designate in your living will whether you do not want to be intubated for any reasons at all, even short term, or if it is for long-term use, meaning you will not be able to breathe on your own without the assistance of a machine ever again.

Why a Living Will Is Important

If you find yourself in a medical situation where you are not able to speak for yourself, consider your loved ones. Do you want to put the burden on them to make tough life or death decisions in an already emotional time, or do you want to take this burden off of their shoulders?

Do you want to be the person making these decisions on your behalf, or do you fear your loved ones will not follow your express wishes should they only be made verbally? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then a living will is a document you need to have on hand.
You can talk to your loved ones about your wishes for a DNR, but your verbal statements will only go so far so long as your loved ones remember them or actually follow them. If you are on life support with no chance of living without use of machines, your loved ones may not be willing to let go and say good-bye.

Perhaps some of your loved ones are willing to follow your wishes but others are not? That is exactly the situation the loved ones of Terri Schiavo faced for the numerous years she remained in an irreversible vegetative state.

You never know how people will react when faced in a certain situation, and unfortunately, if you are not prepared, very little can be done at that point. You never know when the unthinkable could occur.

Even if you are young and healthy, tragedy can strike at any time. If you are not prepared and do not have this simple document available, you could put yourself as well as your loved ones in one of the toughest and worst situations possible. Everyone needs a living will, at all stages and ages of life.

Contact Brian M. Douglas, LLC today

If you are not sure if you need an attorney, you can always come in for a consultation to discuss your situation. Call us today at (770) 933-9009 or contact us online to schedule your consultation with a Greater Atlanta area probate lawyer today.