Planning your estate is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your loved ones respect your wishes if you become incapacitated, and Caring.com reported that in 2022, only about a third of Americans have an estate plan. A vital component of any comprehensive estate plan is a living will. In Pennsylvania, a living will outlines your medical preferences if you cannot express them due to a debilitating illness or injury.
Understanding the components of a living will help ensure you cover every aspect of your future medical care in your estate plan.
Determine life-sustaining treatments
You have the option to specify which life-sustaining treatments you want or do not want if you become incapacitated. These treatments could include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis and more. You make the decisions about your care and your medical team will honor these.
Address pain management
In your living will, outline your wishes for pain management. You have the right to request or refuse any type of pain relief, including strong painkillers or palliative care.
Define end-of-life wishes
Your living will should clearly state your preferences for end-of-life care, such as hospice enrollment, organ donation or preference for dying at home.
Designate a healthcare power of attorney
While not a part of the living will itself, a related document you should consider is a healthcare power of attorney. This allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so.
Review and update regularly
A living will is not a static document. Remember to review it regularly, especially after major life events, to ensure it still reflects your current wishes.
Crafting a thorough living will gives you control over your future medical treatment and brings peace of mind, knowing your loved ones will honor your wishes. By clearly expressing your preferences, you can ensure that your medical care aligns with your personal values and beliefs, no matter what the future holds.