There are many critical components of an estate plan. And it can be overwhelming to think about every one of them when you are starting to think about your wishes and your legacy – especially if you are young and healthy.
That said, there are a few documents every adult should start with as part of their estate plan. One such document is a living will.
What is a living will?
A living will (also called an Advanced Directive for Health Care in Oklahoma) is a document that you complete to convey your wishes regarding:
- End-of-life care
- Substitute medical decision-maker
These two elements ensure you receive or do not receive certain types of care if you are incapacitated and cannot express your wishes.
Types of care
You can choose what you want physicians to do if you have a terminal condition or end-stage condition in your advance directive. Under these circumstances, you can direct doctors to:
- Withhold all life-extending measures, including artificial nutrition and hydration
- Withhold medical care but provide artificial nutrition and hydration
- Provide life-sustaining treatment, including artificial nutrition and hydration
If you have other requests, you can specify those in your plan.
You can also provide guidance regarding organ donation upon your death. You can choose to make anatomical gifts of certain organs for specific purposes.
Health care proxies
A living will provides the information of who should make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself. This person has the authority to decide where you receive care, what tests you undergo and your treatments. Your health care proxy will also be able to access your medical records.
One crucial piece of the puzzle
Your living will provides critical direction to physicians and loved ones during a time that is likely very painful. By having this in place, you relieve your family from having to make incredibly difficult decisions without any guidance or reassurance from you. You can also protect yourself against decisions that do not align with your beliefs or values.
This document is an essential piece of an estate plan. And even if you are not ready for a robust plan, you can start with a living will to provide yourself and your family with some peace of mind.