The Living Will: Is it a Will, or a Health Care Directive, or Neither?

Another estate planning tool authorized by law in many jurisdictions is a living will.  A living will (also called a declaration of a desire for a natural death or a directive to physicians) allows a person who is unconscious or incapacitated to express his or her desires regarding the use of extraordinary measures to extend his or her life when there is no reasonable expectation that he or she will regain consciousness or recover.

A Living Will will not provide direction to disperse your property upon your death.  Nor will it accomplish the basic health care decisions provided for in a Health Care Proxy.  It is really a separate document that specifically outlines the extraordinary medical decisions regarding the extension of your life.

Even if you have a legally enforceable power of attorney for healthcare, health care proxy, or living will, your should discuss fully your preferences regarding medical care with the person or persons you have designated to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

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