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Living Wills Lawyers in Philadelphia, PA

Providing Legal Services and Advice for Clients Looking to Register Their Wishes for Medical Care

Have you ever thought about whether your loved ones would know what to do if you became incapacitated due to an illness or medical emergency? Would they know what your preferences would be, and would they be able to make decisions accordingly? If you answered no, then you may want to consider preparing a living will. With a living will, you can leave written instructions for your loved ones and your doctors if you are ever in a state that makes it impossible for you to communicate your wishes or make medical decisions. The attorneys at the Bratton Law Group explain how living wills work and the steps you should take to prepare one. If you need help regarding living wills or estate planning matters, consult the attorneys at Bratton Law Group by calling 267-323-4038.

What Is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Last Will?

Living wills and last wills are two different types of documents that serve different purposes. While both provide you with a way of expressing your wishes in writing, a living will allows you to communicate your wishes for how you would like to be cared for while you are still alive. In contrast, a last will (sometimes called a last will and testament) contains your wishes for how your property should be distributed among your beneficiaries after you pass away.

Think of a living will as a set of instructions for your family members and loved ones – your living will contains details about what type of medical treatments and procedures you would or would not want to receive in the event you become incapacitated and unable to communicate or make your own decisions. It can also contain end-of-life care instructions as well as your funeral preferences. The goal of writing a living will is to help guide your loved ones during difficult times and to inform your doctors about the steps that should be taken to handle your care.

What Kind of Decisions Are Addressed in a Living Will?

Living wills do not typically contain any instructions regarding the division of your property. Instead, it helps your family members and your doctors make decisions about the ways you would like to be cared for. A crucial part of your living will addresses your choices concerning a variety of emergency medical procedures, such as CPR, artificial ventilation, artificial nutrition, and hydration, and what should be done with your ICD device when you are near death.

For example, you can express your preferences about whether you would like to receive CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) if you experience a situation in which your heart stops beating or if you would rather not be artificially resuscitated. You can also address whether you agree to be intubated and receive artificial ventilation in case you are unable to breathe on your own. Likewise, you can express whether you would want to receive artificial nutrition and hydration in the event that you are unconscious and unable to feed yourself. If you have a pacemaker device installed to help your heart keep beating, you can also add instructions about when your device should be turned off if doctors determine that you have reached a stage of palliative care. You may also express whether you would like to be an organ and tissue donor, as well as any preferences for your funeral.

What Steps Should You Take To Prepare a Living Will?

Preparing a living will does not need to be an overwhelming process. You may begin by carefully considering your values, beliefs, and preferences regarding medical care. Do some research and reflect on the types of treatments and procedures available to sustain a patient’s life in an emergency situation, as well as those used when someone is reaching the end of their life (due to an illness or simply due to complications associated with aging). Consider which types of treatments and procedures you would or would not want to receive in different medical scenarios. It may be helpful to consult with loved ones and healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of the options available and the implications of different choices.

Once you have clarified your wishes, the next step is to document them in a written format. This step can be easily completed by consulting with an attorney who specializes in estate planning or healthcare directives. Be sure to review and update your living will periodically, especially if there are any significant changes in your health or personal circumstances. You will also want to share updated copies of your living will with your loved ones and primary healthcare provider to ensure that your wishes are known and respected in the event of incapacitation.

Why Should You Consider Hiring an Attorney to Help You With Your Living Will?

While it is important to understand that a living will is not a legally binding document, getting help from an attorney to prepare this and other important documents may be the right choice. An attorney can help you walk through the steps needed to record your wishes using clear language and leaving no room for double meanings that could confuse your family members and cause disagreements.

Your attorney can also help you complete other important documents, such as a healthcare power of attorney and a last will, and assist you with the process of clarifying your overall estate planning goals and making sure you also address what should be done with your assets when you pass away. If you need help completing your living will or would like to take steps to prepare your estate plans, contact the attorneys at the Bratton Law Group by calling our office in Philadelphia, PA, at 267-323-4038.