People who have a living will in place are able to maintain a modicum of control over the medical treatment they are willing to endure in the event they are incapacitated. When a person does not have a living will, decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment use on their behalf will be left in the hands of others.
Modern medicine has led to the availability and use of artificial means of prolonging life when the person would otherwise pass away. To some people, being potentially left in this condition is distasteful. People who are in that category often feel they would rather die with the dignity of their wishes than to have their life sustained by machines.
Living wills allow people to carefully consider various medical treatments and to carefully provide directions concerning the care they are willing and unwilling to receive. Various treatments can hinge on different contingencies. By the use of a carefully chosen proxy who will carry out the person’s wishes according to the provisions of the living will, people can maintain control over their own medical care and treatment even when they are no longer able to make decisions on their own.
As such, living wills should be a carefully considered tool that most people should have as a part of their overall estate plan. These wills are not just the province of the elderly. Young people can also suffer catastrophic injury at any time due to an accident or to an unforeseen serious illness or infection. As a result, living wills are beneficial to most people, especially those who are concerned about the type of treatment they may be given if they can no longer communicate. People may thus wish to discuss living wills with their estate planning attorneys in order to plan for possible future contingencies.
Source: American Bar Association, “Living Wills, Health Care Proxies, & Advance Health Care Directives“, December 02, 2014