In the course of estate planning, the term living will might pop up in a search or a conversation with your attorney. A living will is a critical component of your overall estate plan, allowing you to articulate your wishes about life-prolonging medical care. A living will also goes by several other names, including advanced directive, physician’s directive, or health care directive.

It is essential to have a living will in place if you have specific desires with regard to life-support or other life-prolonging treatments. With this legal , your health care providers, family, and other loved ones will be clear about what you want to happen in the event that you become incapacitated. This helps to reduce arguments between family members about what actions should be taken and is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Your living will can be drafted during the same meeting in which you discuss your last will and testament, trust needs or other estate planning s. You should articulate what treatments you want applied to you (as well as those you do not want applied to you) if you were to become incapacitated or afflicted with a terminal illness. Until you have reached this point, you will be able to speak for yourself about the treatments you do or do not want to receive. Some of the treatments that might be listed in your living will include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, diagnostic tests, dialysis, blood transfusions, surgery, and use of a respirator.

In addition to drafting this with your estate planning specialist, you should communicate that you have such a to relevant family members. Your attorney can help you determine exactly what you would like included in your living will and walk you through how to properly prepare and sign it. One of the greatest benefits of having a living will is the peace of mind in knowing that your wishes will be carried out, limiting family disagreements about next steps.