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Why should estate plans include living wills?

Living wills give people their voices, even if physical or mental incapacity has taken their ability to speak their wishes. Although often overlooked, advance care directives such as the living will play an important role in end-of-life planning.

Written legal documents, living wills allow people to document the types of medical procedures they would or would not want in potentially life-threatening medical situations. Therefore, many benefit from understanding why they should have living wills and including them in their estate plans.

Avoid burdening loved ones

According to the National Institute on Aging, the state will generally assign someone to make decisions for people who suffer incapacity without living wills in place. Typically, such choices will then fall to people’s spouses, parents or adult children. By having a living will in place, people have the ability to guide their loved ones in making decisions about their medical treatment and care.

Make wishes known

Sometimes people and their loved ones do not agree on end-of-life decisions, such as not wanting to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation. According to AARP.org, legally binding documents, health care providers generally follow the preferences outlined in patients’ living wills. This may help eliminate the potential for patients not having their wishes carried out or disputes between family members over the decisions that come up.

Living wills and other advance directives only take effect when people require life-saving measures or have a significant risk of death. Thus, including these documents in their estate plans may help give people peace of mind that, should the worst come to pass, they will receive the treatment and care they would choose for themselves.

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