Of all Estate planning documents that we prepare for clients, the Advanced Directive for Healthcare, better known as the “Living Will” is the estate planning document that clients have spent the most time reviewing prior to its execution, and rightfully so.
A Living Will is a written legal document in which a person sets forth his or her directives to medical personnel as to what methods or modes of treatment they want or do not want in the event that they reach the end stages of a terminal illness, are in a permanent and/or irreversible coma, or have severe and irreversible brain damage or brain disease.
In a Living Will, a person is permitted to indicate, for example, whether he or she would want food or water supplied through a tube as well as CPR, surgery, or antibiotics in the event that they are in the end stages of a terminal disease. Living Wills also permit a person to indicate their decisions as to organ donation. More importantly, a person may, and typically does designate a person or persons to carry out their decisions in the event that they are in this condition. This is generally the same person or persons as designated to be the person’s health care Agent under the Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney. In fact, we prepare Living Wills as a component of the Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney, in accordance with the format recommended in the Pennsylvania Probate, Estates, and Fiduciaries Code.
Meet with the client and review the confidential client questionnaire to determine the feasibility of a Living Will.
Have the client determine what person or persons are best suited to be their surrogate under their Living Will.
Prepare initial draft for the client’s review and allow sufficient time for the client to review the Living Will draft.
Follow up with client to discuss client’s review of the Living Will draft and make any revisions as needed until client is prepared to execute the Living Will.