What is a Living Will and Do I Need One?
While it’s never pleasant to think about our own end-of-life situation, the end of life is a fact of life. And most of us don’t want to burden our loved ones with difficult decisions we could have made for ourselves. Being able to set out our own wishes for these moments is one of the critical purposes of having a living will.
Are you legally required to have a living will in California? No. Should everyone have one? Yes!
Why Does it Matter?
There are many reasons that everyone should have a living will:
- It gives you control of what you want when you aren’t able to voice it.
- It gives guidance to your healthcare providers in critical life and death matters.
- It offers guidance and clarity to your loved ones.
- It avoids conflicts between family members who are trying to do the right thing for you yet dealing with their own beliefs and needs.
Unfortunately, a recent Gallup poll shows less than half of all adults in the United States have a living will.
Health Directives in California
As we age, we must face some simple truths. One is that we may become physically or mentally incapacitated at some point in the future. The other is that we will inevitably face our own mortality. Both matters can have profound implications, both for us and our loved ones. But we do have some control over how these will be dealt with, and it is important for us to set them out, so others understand our choices.
In California, we have what is known as an advance care directive that consolidates both a durable power of attorney naming who will direct our healthcare should we become incapacitated and a living will that will direct others in the event we are facing a life-or-death scenario. Having an advance care directive in place gives important guidance to your healthcare providers, your loved ones, and ensures that you make the choices that are right for you, not your doctors, family members, or the court system.
Who Should Have a Living Will?
Although every adult should have an advance care directive, it is especially critical
- If you have been diagnosed with serious health issues
- If you expect to undergo a medical procedure or undergo anesthesia
- If you are planning to move to a nursing home or long-term care
- As part of getting older
Talk with your family, friends, and other persons of trust so you can address any concerns, understand your options, and let them know your plans. After preparing your advance care directive, keep a copy in a safe place and let key family members know where it is and how to access it.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Create a Living Will?
Many free templates on the internet today allow people to create their own advance directive without the aid of an attorney. And while these are affordable and convenient, most people are not entirely aware of the legal implications of their choices or understand all the possible scenarios and options. For instance, the state of California has restrictions on who can act as your agent in these matters.
While it is convenient to use an online form, considering end-of-life situations are serious matters and seldom are one-size-fits-all. Even if you have developed a concise advanced directive from an online form, you must ensure that it doesn’t interfere with other components of your estate plan. This is why it is essential to get skilled legal input.
Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Orange County
At the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai, our dedicated Orange County estate planning attorneys ensure that you and your family are prepared for the future. If you have questions about a living will or other estate planning matters, call our offices at (714) 694-1200 or contact us through our website contact form to schedule a free consultation.