As much as we may all want to spend centuries in this world, there comes a time when exiting is a must. When that time comes, you want to be sure you do not leave your family in disarray. In cases where you won’t be conscious to direct what happens, you would want to ascertain you are well taken care of by the people around you. It is for these, and other reasons, that documents such as living will and last will exist. Although these two documents are not the only ones you can use to express your final wishes and estate planning, they are two of the most common, and certainly enforceable through a court of law.
Let’s look at what it takes to clarify your final wishes.
A Living Will
A living will, also known as a healthcare directive or advance directive, is a document you draft that outlines what you want to happen to you, should you become unable to communicate your preferences. It is mostly employed in healthcare situations to outline what medical treatments, medications, procedures, and more, medical professionals can do to help you.
Think of a situation where your illness makes it difficult for your family to make decisions concerning your care and health, you may want to use it to delineate what the doctors should do when you become incapacitated. If you are terminally ill and want to have your wishes documented in regard to your medical care, then an advanced directive is the way to go.
So, what should you include in your living will?
Consider Treatment Options
A living will is all about the medical treatment you’ll receive should you become unable to communicate your desires. As such, you may need to think of preferences, such as;
- Life Sustenance Treatments: These could be surgery, medication, chemotherapy, and others.
- Life Support: The likes of feeding tubes, kidney dialysis, artificial respiration, and more.
- Final Wishes: Should you pass, do you want to donate your organs? Burial or cremation?
Thinking about what you want to put in the document can be a bit tough. However, you can ask yourself a few questions;
- If you were to become unconscious or go into a coma, would you want the doctors to do everything to ensure you stay alive? Would you just want to slip away naturally?
- What are the cost implications of trying to keep you alive?
- Is hanging around on life support the kind of quality of life you’d want for yourself?
Name a Medical Power of Attorney
Legally, a power of attorney is someone who can make decisions on your behalf when you are not able to. Medically, this person will be responsible for resolving issues about your health and medical treatment. They’ll also be the primary point of contact with your doctors. The decisions they’ll make encompass the things you may not have covered in your living will.
Fill Out and Notarize a Living Will
Every state has a specific living will you can find in The U.S. Will Registry. It should be a physical document; that means printing it. Once you are satisfied with the details in the living will, you can have it notarized by a notary public.
You do not necessarily need a lawyer to draft it, but you require at least two witnesses. Confirm your state’s rules on the notarization of documents and share them with your family members, healthcare agents, and medical team.
Having a Last Will is Essential in Expressing Your Final Wishes
A last will and testament is the document you write when determining what happens to your assets and other properties when you exit this world. In the document, you specify who receives what assets and other belongings.
In addition, other information you can include in the document as your final wishes are;
Funeral or Burial Wishes
The best way to let your loved ones know about your funeral wishes is to write down a list of specific instructions in a document that is separate from your will or trust. Your immediate family and friends will be grieving and may find it difficult to handle anything in that state. As such, you provide a roadmap for them to follow.
The Custody Conundrum
If you have children, then you want to make sure you leave them in safe hands. Your last will and testament allow you to pick who your children go to should you pass on. Ensure you’ve discussed this with your person of choice, so they are prepared well in advance.
Choice of Executor
An executor is someone who verifies that your will is followed to the letter. This is the person you trust your will with, and you have to confirm it is someone you trust and has the right judgment.
In life, you accumulate assets and properties over time. Once you are gone, you need to know that these possessions will go to the right beneficiaries, or towards a good cause. Before then, however, list all the assets, so your executor can find and distribute them according to your will.
They can be;
- Insurance policies
- Bank accounts
You also have the option of putting your property and assets into a trust. You can designate this trust to act towards a certain purpose, such as holding your belongings until your dependents achieve a specific age. Likewise, you can also allocate them for philanthropic purposes.
Need Help Articulating Your Final Wishes?
While these two are just a part of your estate planning efforts, they are by far the most important to that end. For example, you can have a letter of last instruction that lists personal information, like close contacts, location of legal documents and forms, usernames, and passwords, among other things. When paired with the last will and testament, they can help ease the succession process.