The preparation of Living Wills is part of estate planning, along with preparation of Last Wills and Testaments and Powers of Attorney. Living Wills indicate what medical treatment patients want or do not want when patients have end-stage medical conditions or are permanently unconscious. They may also be effective for patients who have serious brain damage or brain diseases. Living Wills, which may also be known as Advance Directives for Healthcare, may include choices for CPR, mechanical breathing, surgery, hydration, blood transfusions, and antibiotics. They specifically deal with tube feedings and organ donation and allow the patient to choose a surrogate decision maker to whom medical personnel may talk.
In preparing Living Wills, people should talk with their family as well as with their elder law attorney. People often want to talk with their doctors, but doctors were not able to be paid by Medicare for having these discussions. Some doctors would still have these end-of-life discussions with their patients. Some private insurance companies began to pay for these talks.
Medicare recently announced that it plans to pay doctors for providing advice about end-of-life care starting January 1, 2016. Paying physicians to discuss end-of-life planning will help people make more informed decisions and make better Advance Directives as part of their estate planning. It is a good idea to discuss your wishes with your elder law attorney, your doctor (who will be able to be paid starting in January), your religious advisor and, most importantly, with your family.