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Could a living will benefit your estate plan?

Estate planning allows you to cover many bases relating to issues that could arise near the end of your life or after your death. Many individuals may think that an estate plan only provides information about how to distribute assets after a person's passing, but that is far from the reality of this process. As you work to create a comprehensive estate plan, you may wish to consider how it could apply to your health care near the end of your life.

A living will in particular can play an important role when it comes to certain health care decisions. You may have heard this document referred to as a health care directive, but the two terms pertain to the same document. Generally, you can utilize this directive to address your medical preferences in certain situations.

Terminal illnesses or vegetative state

Typically, a living will comes into effect when you reach a point of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness or coma. Because you may only have a minimal chance of survival and you will likely not have the ability to make decisions for yourself under these circumstances, your loved ones may wonder what the best courses of action regarding any potential treatment may be. A living will can allow you to express your wishes for this type of scenario.

Many people may think of this document as giving someone permission to "pull the plug," but it does not necessarily have to indicate a preference to withhold life-extending treatments. In fact, if you wish, you could use your living will to indicate that any available and applicable treatments be applied or to specify which options are acceptable.

Attorney-in-fact

In order to ensure that the necessary parties follow the terms of your living will, you may need to appoint an attorney-in-fact. Taking on this role has a great significance, can prove immensely stressful and may require some medical knowledge. Therefore, before you make a decision regarding who should take on this role, you may wish to discuss the situation with your candidates and determine who has the willingness and ability to take on the position.

Creating your document

You could find it helpful to take a variety of aspects into account when creating a living will, and if you do not understand how the document works, you may want to find out more about its benefits. Consulting with a New Jersey attorney may help you understand this planning tool, along with how you could use it.

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