What Is a Living Will and Do You Need One?

If you’re thinking about wills, you’ll know that a last will and testament offers peace of mind because your wishes will be carried out after you pass on. But before you pass away, a living will can outline what you want to happen if the time comes when you’re still alive but can’t communicate due to a serious medical situation. A living will is a legal document that tells others what your personal choices are about end-of-life medical treatment. It lays out the procedures or medications you want—or don’t want—to prolong your life if you can’t talk with the doctors yourself.

Your last will explains exactly how you want your property and other assets to be handled after your death and includes family responsibilities, like naming legal guardians for your children. But a living will is there to step in when you’re still alive but in an unconscious or terminal state, unable to voice your medical care wishes.

 Loss of communication could happen because you’re under anesthesia for a scheduled surgery and had a complication, or maybe when you’re unconscious from an accident or other event.

A living will is different from a medical power of attorney (which is when you choose someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf).

Your last will explains exactly how you want your property and other assets to be handled after your death and includes family responsibilities, like naming legal guardians for your children. But a living will is there to step in when you’re still alive but in an unconscious or terminal state, unable to voice your medical care wishes.

Think of it like this: Your last will tells people what you want to happen after you die. A living will tells them what you want to happen while you’re still living.

Here are the basic facts on how a living will works:

  • It has to meet all of your province’s specific requirements for notarization and witnesses to be valid.
  • It can be revoked at any time—that’s helpful because you never know when new information or life changes might alter your plans, and you don’t want anything obsolete from an older living will to misrepresent your current wishes.
  • The question of when a living will takes effect is your choice: You can make it effective immediately, or you can set it up so that it only kicks into effect once doctors have determined you can no longer communicate your preferences about treatment.
  • Even if you opt to make it effective immediately, doctors will lean as long as possible on getting your personal preferences before consulting any document.
  • To find out more info on your choices please visit https://www.drugs.com/cg/living-will

A weekly feature for Lumby, Cherryville, and area seniors. For more information about any of the following please contact Lauralee or Jenny at (250) 547-8866 Whitevalley Community Resource Centre Office (250) 547-8866. Funding support provided by Interior Health, the Province of British Columbia (Community Gaming), United Way Southern Interior and United Way Lower Mainland.

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