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What is a living will?

The last thing people want to think about is their death. But like the late, great Benjamin Franklin once told us, there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes. While most of us think of taxes every time we make a purchase, and every quarter when taxes are due, we generally do not think about death very often. But it will happen.

A serious accident injury or illness can happen to anyone at any time without warning. If you suffer such an accident, does your family know how you want the medical professionals to handle your situation? What if there are disagreements among family members on how to handle your medical care?

A living will is not actually a will, but is a document which outlines how you want to be treated in the event of a medical emergency. It is essentially a healthcare directive or a directive to physicians on how you wish to be handled. It can include complicated medical techniques and options, whether or not you wish to stay on life support if you are in a permanent vegetative state or terminally ill.

Creating a living will can help your family by outlining specific instructions about your well-being in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury. If you are unable to speak or express your medical wishes or concerns, a living will can help your family make these decisions for you. Creating a will is likely the last thing on anyone's mind, but it is an important step in proactively thinking about and addressing your future.

Source: "Living Wills: Introduction," Accessed June 14, 2017

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