An advance healthcare directive, commonly referred to as a living will, health advance directive, health care power of attorney, or living trust, is a legally binding document where an authorized person (usually the patient’s parents or other legal guardians) defines what actions the patient must take on his or her own behalf. This document sets out the conditions for the care that the patient is to receive and how this care should be administered, including what medical procedures he or she must undergo and the treatment that he or she must have. All conditions defined in the living will must be agreed upon by the patient and the person granting the living will. In some cases, where a person dies before giving all the required instructions in the living will, a living will may not have effect and the person who was the patient’s legal guardian will take over the implementation of the living will. Nonetheless, living wills are still important documents because they set the foundation for much later healthcare decisions.
The very earliest living will records were created back in the 15th century. Back then, the most common living will be a “joint-dwelling” document that stated that the patient’s body should be taken care of after death. These living will documents generally allowed for a physician to prescribe medicines, change one’s diet and assign assets to whomever they wanted to benefit from the patient’s death.
Hospitals back then would rarely take a living will because it was deemed that a person shouldn’t dictate what happens to their body until the time of their passing. As a result, most individuals would die before they had the opportunity to complete a living will. Thankfully, the Living Will act of 1996 changed all that. It now requires that anyone wanting to decide how their medical treatments and/or healthcare should be arranged and that their medical debts be paid upon their death could do so with the help of a doctor, physician, or agent who has been appointed to mediate between the patient and the physician or other agents.
A living trust is also now required for anyone interested in making sure they will have enough money to cover their healthcare costs and probate. In addition, anyone can now stipulate how their estate will be settled if they should die. In short, the Living Will now serves as a modern day testament that anyone can use to protect their family and loved ones. This would not have been possible without the changes made by the Living Will in 1996. The fact is that no one really knows when the individual will pass away, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
It is vital that everyone have a Living Will, so that the decisions made regarding one’s healthcare are solely those of the individual. In the past, having a Living Will was too cumbersome to maintain. It required a phone call and many hours of speaking to legal professionals about what one wanted. Now, because of the Living Wills changes, anyone can utilize Living Will services and it does not even require a doctor’s prescription. Anyone over the age of eighteen can utilize Living Wills, which makes it even easier for young adults to set up a living trust.
Having a Living Will can make life much easier for anyone. It gives individuals the peace of mind they need to make medical decisions that are in the best interest of themselves and their family in the event that they become ill or pass away. By having a Living Will, people can also ensure that their estate goes to the parties they choose. By learning more about Living Wills and using them, individuals can avoid future legal issues that could have been avoided.