Although the concept of the living will has been around for decades, there are still many misconceptions when it comes to this legal document.
Sometimes referred to as an “advanced healthcare directive“, a living will permits you to express your wishes and instructions for healthcare and healthcare directions when you are incompetent and are in an end stage medical condition or are permanently unconscious. It is not the same as your last will and testament, which permits you to control the disposition of your assets after your death. Nor does a living will address decision making in your day-to-day medical care if you become incompetent.
You can create a living will if you are of sound mind and one of the following applies:
– 18 years of age or older
– A high school graduate
– An emancipated minor
To be valid, a living must be signed and dated by you, and witnessed by two individuals, each of whom is 18 years of age or older.
Your living will goes into effect when a copy of it is provided to your attending physician, and the attending physician determines you to be incompetent and to have an end stage medical condition or to be permanently unconscious. Once made, your living will is valid, notwithstanding the passage of time, until you revoke it.
A significant benefit of making a living will is that it removes any ambiguity as to your wishes if you are in an end stage medical condition or a permanent coma. This can be helpful to your love ones, especially your children, in removing the burden of making a life and death decision for a parent.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to start planning immediately. There are several essential documents to help you once you become incapacitated, but if you don’t already have them in place you need to act quickly after a diagnosis. Consulting with an elder law attorney is an essential part of this process.
Having dementia does not mean that an individual is not mentally capable to make planning decisions. Simply having a form of mental illness or disease does not mean that you automatically lack the required mental capacity. As long as you have periods of lucidity, you may still be competent to sign planning documents.
Here are some essential documents for a person diagnosed with dementia:
Continue Reading Four Legal Steps to Take After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
People have been leaving wills since the days of Ancient Greece, but living wills have only come about in the last 50 years.
The living will was first created in 1967 by Luis Kutner, the attorney who helped found Amnesty International.
Half a century later, there are living will laws in every state. But what do these documents do, and why do people need a living will? Gummer Elder Law has your answer.
Continue Reading When Do I Need a Living Will?
Did you know that 40 percent of people over age 65 have not written down their wishes regarding life support and other end-of-life treatment? One reason for this may be that people haven’t had a conversation with their doctor about the options that are available.
In the past, Medicare did not cover these doctor-patient conversations – except during the patient’s initial “Welcome to Medicare” visit, a time when the topic might not seem very relevant.
Under new regulations, however, Medicare will cover these conversations at any time.
Continue Reading Medicare Now Covers Conversations About End-Of-Life Care