The Benefits and Cost-Savings of a Living Will

What are your feelings on receiving life-prolonging medical treatments? If you become permanently unconscious, would you want medical staff to use a ventilator or feeding tube to keep you alive? Would you instead prefer that your life be allowed to take its course naturally? A living will is a legal document that answers these and other questions.

A living will, also known as an advance health care directive, is a legally binding document that allows you to express your wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. This document typically describes which medical treatments you want (and which you do not want), in the event that you become permanently incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes.

There are many benefits to having a living will among your other estate planning documents. One of these benefits is that it makes end-of-life decisions much easier for your loved ones. The following are some of the reasons these decisions are easier:

  • Your family is allowed to grieve with much less pain and guilt, without having the burden of making tough decisions regarding your prolonged medical care.
  • Your end-of-life decision is not left in the hands of multiple family members, who may all have to agree before any action was taken.
  • It makes end-of-life decisions and situations less stressful to your family members, knowing that they are fulfilling your final wishes.

There are also financial benefits to a living will. The following are some examples of the ways individuals with living wills and their families can save money on end-of-life expenses:

  • Individuals with living wills are less likely to die in a hospital, cutting back on end-of-life hospital expenses.
  • Individuals with living wills are more likely to receive hospice care, a lower-cost alternative to hospital care and treatment.

The requirements of a valid living will vary by state. If you do not already have a living will, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney who will help you draft a valid and enforceable document that addresses all of your health care wishes.