Advance Medical Directives: Top Three Problems of Living Wills

Part of the comprehensive estate planning process is drafting a set of advance medical directives to allow you to control your medical decisions in the event that you can no longer express your wishes on your own. One of the documents is a living will, which allows you to express your wishes for end of life care. But all too often, people turn to online forms or self-drafted living wills for these important documents, and the top three problems that come up with living wills are:

1. Missing in Action

Sometimes family members or medical providers do not know that a living will exists. If they do know there is a living will, they cannot find it. It’s important that your family knows of the document and where to locate it.

2. Poorly Drafted Documents

Many of the online living will forms are extremely vague and do not offer much guidance when it comes to the emotional decisions surrounding end of life care. Why? It is often much more complex than simply removing life support from a patient with no hope of recovery. Most people are unable to imagine many of the scenarios that can occur, let alone how they will feel in advance.

3. Emotional Choices

While your general wishes are there in black and white, there’s much more to it – the human factor. Tough decisions will need to be made, with various if/then aspects. A document may not be able to insert common sense and emotions into the picture – and sometimes that is what is needed when it comes to these decisions.

There are steps you can take to make sure your end of life wishes are heeded by having other estate planning documents in place, such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, which allows you to appoint a health care proxy to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

An estate planning attorney can not only help you draft the legal documents needed, but they can provide direction and advice that makes the documents work toward a comprehensive estate plan that meets your specific needs and goals.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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