Even a seemingly healthy person may suffer an unexpected illness, health condition or injury that leaves them mentally or physically incapacitated. If unable to speak or choose for yourself, the decision regarding how to treat and care for you may rest in the hands of your next of kin and the treating physicians.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a living will allows you to legally specify the types of medical treatments you would and would not want. Thus, including this type of advance care directive in your estate plan may offer several benefits should a situation arise in which you cannot make choices for yourself.
Guide medical decisions
In an emergency or end-of-life situation, numerous decisions may have to get made regarding your treatment and care. For instance, this may include determining whether to use mechanical ventilation, dialysis, tube feeding or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Through a living will, you may address many of the choices that may come up in such situations and indicate what treatments you would or would not want, as well as the circumstances in which your specifications may apply.
Reduce confusion or disagreements
Having a living will in place may also help reduce confusion for those charged with making decisions on your behalf and limit the possibility of disagreements amongst your loved ones. In some cases, family members may find it difficult to let go or have deep-seated opposition to your values. Through a living will, you may ensure your voice gets heard even if you cannot speak for yourself.
Alleviate the burden for loved ones
With or without guidance, making end-of-life decisions for a loved one can create a substantial burden. By stipulating the treatments that you would want and the situations in which you would want them, you may lift this weight off your loved ones.