Today we're going to discuss living wills, which are sometimes called advanced directives. I'll give you a hint. They are not the same thing as a Last Will & Testament. Welcome to 2 Minute Tuesday, where I attempt to discuss an estate planning topic in two minutes or less.
Now, before we get started, if you're enjoying these videos every Tuesday, can you please do me a huge favor and hit the subscribe button in the right-hand corner below? I would really appreciate it.
In our last couple of videos, we discussed the importance of incapacity planning and that along with your revocable trust-centered estate plan, you need to have at a minimum a durable power-of-attorney, healthcare power-of-attorney, HIPAA authorizations, and a living will. Links to each of these videos and their topics should be appearing now onscreen and if they're not, I will also put links in the comments section below.
Today we're going to discuss why you need a living will. Now, before I get started, I should note again that a living will is not the same thing as a Last Will & Testament which only becomes effective at death. A Last Will & Testament has no effect until it is probated in a court of law after you die. To learn more about a Last Will, click on the link that should again be appearing now. A living will only pertains to the end of life decisions, and is effective while you are still living. Think of it as a instruction manual specifically listing your choices in the event you are in a persistent vegetative state.
First, what is a persistent vegetative state? Well, I'm not a medical doctor, but basically it means a person has an incurable and an irreversible condition, and the person is not responsive to stimuli, has no indication of higher brain function, and is only being kept alive with medical treatment. In our last video on healthcare power-of-attorney, we discussed the Terri Schiavo case in which her husband and parents fought for years in court over what treatment she should or should not receive.
So, a living will allows you to make decisions now, and not put your family through the painful decision making process. We can customize a living will to your specific instructions, but your options are basically:
1. Receiving food and water,
2. Receiving food, water and pain relief medication,
3. Receiving only pain relief medication,
4. Receiving all life sustaining treatment, or
5. Receiving nothing.
Now, you might want some combination of the above, and I've had some clients say they just want medication, or that after 30 days or 60 days of food, water and medication, on day 31 they only want pain relief.
I had a young couple once come in and say that they wanted no life sustaining treatment, but they wanted to be high as a kite and completely pain-free if they were ever in that condition.
So the bottom line is that whatever combination you choose, it's your choice, and that along with a healthcare power-of-attorney and a revocable trust-centered estate plan, all of this is your choice, and does not place the burden on your loved ones at a time when they are already dealing with a dying loved one.
Now, as with all your estate planning documents, you want to make certain that your living will is up-to-date. It will not do you any good if the person you've named as your trusted agent is no longer living in Oklahoma, or has actually passed away. So, while a brother or sister might be a good choice early on in life, they might not be around later in life, so always update your plan and your designations.
Well, that's all for today. I'm not sure if I made it under two minutes, but if you enjoyed this video, then please like it below and please hit the subscribe button below, or click on my face which should be appearing now so you'll get our new videos every Tuesday. We appreciate you watching, and I'll see you next time. Thanks again.