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The Importance of Living Wills

One thing is certain in life: it's completely unpredictable. This unpredictability is exactly why it's crucial for everyone to create a living will, especially those entering end-of-life care.

According to the Mayo Clinic, living wills are defined as written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

"There are many reasons to make a living will: to give guidance to your doctors and health care surrogates, provide clarity and closure to your loved ones, prevent conflict or disagreements among family members, and limit the emotional burden on your closest people at the time of your death." -AARP

According to this article by the AARP, these are general guidelines for information to include in a living will:

  • A standard direction that you do not want life-prolonging procedures administered or continued if there is no probability of your survival.

  • More specific directions about what care you do or do not want (for example, dialysis, mechanical ventilation to assist with breathing, artificial hydration, and nutrition or CPR).

  • Anatomical gift decisions (meaning, whether you wish to be an organ and tissue donor or donate your body to science or education).

  • Palliative care wishes (like whether you wish to die at home or avoid invasive tests or procedures).

  • Spiritual and religious considerations (your faith may have its own directions for how to create a living will).

With all of this information, you might ask, "how do I obtain one of these living wills?"

According to this article by Free Will, here are some options:

  • Use a living will form provided by your state. Most states provide blank living will forms for free (but these templates aren’t always easy to tailor to your needs).

  • Use an online living will template. There are several companies that offer living will forms online. You fill in your information and then often have to pay a fee to download your documents.

  • Use free online software. You can use a free provider, like FreeWill, to create a living will and medical POA.

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