Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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How a living will protects your wishes

Sometimes we need a reminder of the famous line by Benjamin Franklin. "There are only two certainties in life - death and taxes." While this comment was likely done in jest, it still holds true, and can be valuable for people to think about, especially when considering their future. As we all know but all too often forget or take for granted, no tomorrows are guaranteed, and we never really know when our time is up. We could continue with even more clich├ęs, but the point is that an accident, injury or illness could strike any one at any time, and protecting yourself, your assets and your wishes in the event of a tragedy, should not be overlooked.

A living will is not an actual will, but is more of a "healthcare directive." It is a document that you create to help guide family and medical professionals in the event that you are unable to express your wishes. It is most commonly associated with the instruction of withholding treatment in the event that your condition is beyond repair or healing such as a permanent vegetative state or terminally ill and unable to communicate, but may be applied to many other decisions as well.

You may also use your living will to instruct doctors on how to treat or handle your condition, such as specific medical situations. A living will often fills the same role as a power of attorney; this is a person who makes judgement calls based on the presumed best wishes of the will holder. It is one of the documents to consider making while working on your estate planning wishes.

No one likes to see family members or friends fight or argue amongst themselves. This is yet another reason to consider a living will. Every person has their own opinion on every topic, and often these opinions vary greatly. A living will can also help prevent family members and loved ones from having to make difficult decisions on their own, which can often lead to fights, arguments or resentments when the decisions are not universally agreed upon.

Source:, "Living wills: Introduction," Accessed May 1, 2017

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