The concept of creating living wills began about 50 years ago. A living will is a document that outlines your exact medical treatment wishes should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to express those wishes. The subject often gains national attention when a family disagrees regarding how to care for a loved one who unexpectedly falls into a vegetative state. Too often, a court battle between the relatives of an individual who has not created a living will ensues in such cases.
Today, nearly 30 percent of Americans have created a living will designed to express their desires in the event of a coma, persistent vegetative state, or terminal illness. Unfortunately, medical technology has advanced in ways many people do not consider and a physician is not always able to predict medical outcomes. Consequently, many living wills leave loved ones struggling to make medical choices where the document is silent, especially with regard to questions regarding a patient’s future quality of life.
You can download simple Wisconsin Living Will form at the Department of Health Services web site.
Although some health care organizations have advocated for greater flexibility in living wills, others believe a health care agent should be appointed as part of your overall estate plan. According to Robert M. Veatch, a Professor of Medical Ethics at Georgetown University, an individual can avoid vagueness in a living will document by choosing a trusted relative or friend to speak on their behalf in the event of a medical emergency.
Dr. Angela Fagerlin, Co-Director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, said many people do not articulate their wishes properly in a living will. She also stated family members often have a difficult time interpreting a loved one’s written wishes. In a 2001 study of 400 patients, she found relatives were only able to accurately predict their loved one’s wishes about 70 percent of the time whether or not a living will was provided. Still, even where a person chooses to appoint a health care agent, a living will can guide the choices of the person selected. A living will may also serve as evidence regarding an individual’s wishes.
Strokes, heart attacks, and other health issues can arise without warning. If you are concerned about the impact an unexpected health complication may have on your family, you should consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer. By creating both a living will and a health care power of attorney as part of your comprehensive estate plan, you may be able to relieve some of the burden placed on your loved ones following a sudden illness or incapacitation.
Call Krause Law Offices LLC at (608) 268-5751 today to schedule your consultation with a hardworking and dedicated Madison-area estate planning attorney. Attorney Daniel J. Krause assists clients located throughout Wisconsin achieve peace of mind. He helps individuals create health care documents, powers of attorney, wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools tailored to their individual needs. To speak with a hardworking Wisconsin estate planning attorney today, please do not hesitate to contact Krause Law Offices LLC through our website.
Taking Advantage of the Current Federal Gift-Tax Exemption as Part of Your Wisconsin Estate Plan, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Lawyer Blog, July 5, 2012
Important Topics Parents Should Discuss With Their Adult Children, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Lawyer Blog, July 2, 2012
A New Look at Living Wills, by Laura Johannes, The Wall Street Journal
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