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Things to Know About Living Wills

Pennsylvania residents who become incapacitated and lack any legal documents that express their wants for medical treatment, place their lives in the hands of medical providers, family members, and the court system. What happens to them will no longer be up to them. Those who wish to have a say in their treatment should consider having a living will.

What are living wills? Living wills are legal documents in which one expresses personal wants and wishes for medical care. They can be extremely detailed if one has a lot of thoughts on the matter, or they can be really basic. It all comes down to personal preference.

Why consider having a living will? Not only does it make one's thoughts known so they can be honored, but a living will can help prevent family conflict. Family members do not always agree on what is best for their loved ones. Leaving medical decisions up to them without documented wishes may cause harmful disputes.

How is it different from a health care power of attorney (POA)? A POA gives a designated individual the power to make medical decisions for the incapacitated person. A POA is a good thing to have, but on its own, it does not give specific directions about medical treatment to the personal representative. It merely gives the individual the right to make decisions.

Living wills can be extremely valuable, especially if one has very specific thoughts on what is deemed acceptable and wanted health care. Pennsylvania residents who wish to have a say in their care in the event they become incapacitated should speak to an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can guide them through the process of creating living wills and any other legal documents that would best serve their interests. While this may not be an easy thing to think about, taking care of it now will only help prevent a lot of possible issues later.

Source: FindLaw, "Living Will Basics", Accessed on March 27, 2018