While most people in New York may have heard of living wills, it may not be clear exactly what they are and how they differ from other wills. While a person’s regular will discusses how their assets are to be handled after their death, a living will, by contrast, deals with major health care decisions while the person is still living.
Living wills are legal documents through which people can outline what care and treatment they are willing to receive in the event they become incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions on their own. These wills allow a selected proxy to make decisions regarding treatment on behalf of the incapacitated person according to the living will’s provisions.
Medical advancements have brought many life-sustaining treatments that can be used to prolong life, but not everyone wants to use them. By writing a living will and carefully selecting the proxy, people can ensure that they will only receive the type of treatment that they desire in the event of incapacity. They are just as important for young people to consider having as they are for the elderly, as young people can also become incapacitated due to an accident or serious and unexpected illness.
While a person’s spouse may be named as the person’s health care proxy, it is important to discuss the person’s wishes as to care to make certain that the spouse agrees and is willing to do as the living will directs in the event catastrophe occurs. It can be equally important to select an alternate in case the first choice is unable or unwilling to perform his or her duties if the time comes.
Source: American Bar Association, ” Living Wills, Health Care Proxies, & Advance Health Care Directives “, December 02, 2014