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5 Things to Know Before Creating a Living Will

August 15, 2018

Writing a living will is one of those things that is on most people’s to-do list, but way down there at the bottom, perhaps even after creating a last will and testament.

While a will or testament is a legal document expressing the wishes of a person as to how their property should be distributed after their death, a living will is a legally binding document that establishes your wishes should you become permanently ill, unconscious, or require emergency medical attention.

Here are a few things to consider before creating a living will:

Is It Necessary?

If you don’t have a living will, you aren’t alone. Surveys have found that only about 1 in 3 Americans have a living will, but it may be something you want to have, just in case.

Really, it comes down to how you feel about being caught in some sort of limbo, where you are alive but not cognizant. Would you want to be kept alive by machines indefinitely? Even if you have a care-free type of attitude, you may want to consider creating a living will, if not for you, but for your loved ones.

Most famously there was the case of Terri Schiavo in Florida who was in a vegetative state for 15 years with her life literally being decided in the courtroom, as the husband wanted to remove life support while her parents opposed any such action.

What Should I Include in a Living Will?

Choosing what to include is entirely up to the discretion of each individual and can be as broad or as specific as you wish. There are some areas you should cover, including whether you wish to appoint someone with durable power of attorney (allowing someone to make medical decisions for you if something is not covered by your living will), as well as your wishes about various life-sustaining medical treatment issues, including CPR, breathing tubes, feeding and hydration, dialysis, and pain killers. Some people have moral or religious objections to these methods of resuscitating or sustaining life.

Do You Include Things About Property?

No, a living will is very different from a last will and testament, and they are only applicable when the person is alive or if they are incapacitated and unable to make decisions (such as with Alzheimer’s). A last will and testament is a separate legal document that deals with what happens after someone dies.

When Does it Go into Effect?

A living will is only used if you are deemed incapacitated or incompetent by a doctor. So long as you are mentally competent and can speak on your own behalf, then a living will won’t go into effect.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

The perspective and advice of a legal professional is crucial when creating a living will. In order to ensure that your wishes are followed during difficult times, it is important to have a legally binding document.

Not only that, but a lawyer can help you go over a wide-range of situations, some of which you may not have considered, while creating a document that meets all state requirements. Having a living will may not be at the top of your list, but it is something that will allow you to rest easy when you know that important medical care decisions will be carried out per your wishes based on decisions you’ve made yourself.

The law firm of Fears Nachawati has helped many Texans grapple with these important considerations, and we take the time to meet with all of our clients in order to make sure we fully understand their wishes and needs so we can guide them in the right direction.

Creating a living will isn’t a document you should take lightly, and we’re here to help. If you are in need of these important legal services in the great state of Texas, then now is the time to speak to the team at Fears Nachawati. We offer a free, no obligation consultation in order to discuss the specifics of your needs and how we can be of help to you.

Contact us today at (866) 705-7584 to schedule your appointment at one of our Texas offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, or San Antonio.


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