Living wills are becoming popular despite the fact that people think they have certain limitations. But, what exactly are these living wills, and why are they extremely necessary?
John Nicholas Fath
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Many people do not have living wills because they do not want to face the possibility of death or grave illnesses, as if not talking about it makes it uncertain and unreal. But this isn’t the case; everyone knows that, sooner or later, there will come a time when you or your loved ones will have to face a situation where living wills are necessary. And unfortunately, once this happens, you can no longer create living wills for yourself or your family.
Therefore, it’s important that you create living wills. In fact, many prominent people have living wills. Even American Barack Obama has one—and he even encouraged people to have one as well. Living wills are becoming popular despite what people claiming that it has certain limitations.
But first, what exactly are these living wills, and why are they extremely necessary?
The importance of will creation
Living wills or advanced health care directives are instructions you create telling your family what to do for your health when you are no longer unable to make this decision for yourself because of some disease or illness. Basically, this is a situation that usually happens to people in a coma. Family members usually argue what to do with regards to the sick relative. Should they continue his artificial life support or should they stop it, hence ending his life? The law dictates that in this case, your wife or husband, followed by your oldest or elder child, followed by your parents can make the decision for you. In many case, the decision has been contested by other family members—prolonging the situation and prolonging the hardships of the family and the incapacitated individual.
Living wills can prevent the potential conflict because you put in legal writing what you want to happen during this scenario. In a manner of speaking, living wills allow you to make that decision now, before the situation disables you from doing so.
But more than the decision making, will creation offers you several benefits and advantages. After all, will creation is not always about death or impending death. It is also about refusing certain treatments or requesting for certain treatments during your incapacitation. For instance, you are in a coma and the doctors want to open up certain parts of your body. Maybe this is something you don’t want—so you can specify this on your living will. Creating a will also allows you to know the outcome in case you meet or experience such instances.
Perhaps the most important benefit of creating a will is the prevention of conflict. As mentioned earlier, many families fight over medical decisions like these, since it is very rare that everyone agrees to do the same thing to you in case of such medical situations. The will creation instantly means that your family will no longer have to make such difficult decisions. At least, they’ll know what to do according to your wishes. They will no longer be burdened with the thought that they are going to do something you do not desire. Living wills make everything clear and definite—especially since doctors are bound by the law to follow your advance directive even if your family does not approve of your decision. Living wills are as good as your actual directive—because it is your directive.
Will creation tips
Basically, living wills indicate whether you want to be on life support or not and if you want to donate your organs for educational and/or medical resources. Of course, when you decide to discontinue the life support, the decisions you need to make will be lessened. For instance, you wouldn’t have to decide whether you want food and water tubes. Other decisions that should be indicated on living wills include treatments you want and don’t want done on you for whatever reason, regardless of the treatments’ effect on your body.
Will creation should be considered properly and thoroughly. For instance, living wills may present answer to certain medical situations. But there are instances when the living will does not cover the medical situation of the individual due to the limited scope of the will. Consider the usual contents of living wills (as stated above) and think: what other medical situations are there to consider?
Another problem posed by living wills is how it may limit the quality of medical attention given to a patient. A patient may resist a general procedure. But what if a certain procedure, one that is included in the patient’s restrictions, can cure the patient immediately? Even if this is the case, doctors and even the relatives are forced by the law to follow the instructions of the living will no matter what. Think about this when you put procedure restrictions on your will. After all, you will never be too sure what kind of medical emergency can incapacitate you. If it is on your will, your family members will not be able to do about it.
One way around this limitation is to make sure will creation isn’t very stringent. A second generation will also allow a specified person (authorized by you, of course) to make decisions not indicated on your living will. This way, your family members know the one making the decision is the one you want to make the decision.
Will creation needs to consider state laws as well. Depending on where you live, the will may or may not be valid depending on how you create it. Other countries have different laws regarding living wills as well.
In any case, this is an important decision and task you need to make and do. Make sure you creating a will involves your spouse or you children or your parents. This will ensure them that these are the things you want. It is a difficult decision to make right now, and it may even seem unnecessary at this very moment. However, you need to recognize the fact that there will come a time when your living will can alleviate your loved ones from pain and anxiety.