You probably created a Last Will and Testament as the foundation of your estate plan. At some point, you may also want to add a Living Will to that plan to ensure that your wishes will be honored regarding end-of-life healthcare decisions. Toward that end, the Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law offer suggestions regarding when to create or update your Living Will.
Advance Directive Basics
An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to plan ahead and make your own end-of-life wishes known in the event that you are unable to communicate those wishes at some later time and/or appoint someone to make decisions for you. State law dictates which type of advance directives are recognized in a particular state. In the absence of an advance directive, you have no guarantee that your wishes will be honored nor who will make healthcare decisions for you.
The State of North Dakota recognizes two types of advance directives. The first is a Power of Attorney for Health Care which allows you to name someone to make healthcare decisions for you, including decisions about life-sustaining treatment, if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The second is the Health Care Instructions which is Indiana’s version of a Living Will. This document lets you make important decisions regarding medical treatment, including end-of-life treatment, now in case you are unable to make them for yourself at some point in the future.
When Should I Create My First Living Will?
A Living Will is one of those estate planning tools that people often fail to execute because they are either unaware of the benefits of having a Living Will in place or because they are operating under the mistaken belief that they don’t need one yet. The truth is that everyone should have a Living Will in place, without regard to your age, wealth, or marital status. There are, however, some life changes that really should prompt you to create your first Living Will if you have yet to do so, such as:
- . If you are scheduled to have surgery, that is an excellent time to create your Living Will and really think about the provisions in it just in case they are needed. As the adage goes “plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
- . Life, or more specifically the importance of life, sometimes takes on a heightened importance when you become pregnant, making it a good time to create your Living Will.
When Should I Update My Living Will?
You should take the time to conduct a routine review and revision of your entire estate plan every few years; however, certain events may prompt a more immediate update of your Living Will, such as:
- – for example, if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another serious disease. Knowing that your Living Will might be needed is reason enough to review it to make sure it reflects your current wishes.
- – often, our views on things change as we age. Once you reach retirement age your views on medical treatments may also change.
- – all types of things can spark a dramatic change in your wishes, from a spiritual awakening to the death of a loved one. If you suddenly feel differently about the issues addressed in your Living Will it is best to make the necessary changes immediately.
Contact a Grand Forks Estate Planning Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about adding a Living Will to your estate plan, contact a Grand Forks estate planning attorney at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.