August 1, 2023
National Make a Will Month
August is National Make-a-Will MonthPeople sidestep discussing or even thinking about death for good reason. Though death is ominous, it is also inevitable. We recommend that those who have not made a will and advanced directive should seize the opportunity to do so.
Creating a Will for Peace of MindMake life less stressful by meeting with an estate planning attorney to create a will. In particular, if you’re in your golden years, you will enjoy invaluable peace of mind with the creation of a will. Moreover, if you’re suffering from a serious medical condition, regardless of your age, you will also need a will. Expressing desires for the distribution of assets to an estate planning attorney sets the stage for the creation of a will. The will is copied thrice; one copy remains with the estate planning attorney, another copy is given to the client, and a third is filed with the local probate court. Desires for the distribution of a house, car, investments, cash savings and other assets will be executed exactly as stated in the will. The alternative is to die intestate, meaning without a will. Intestate death spurs a potentially lengthy and divisive probate process that does not guarantee assets will be distributed fairly.
Create an Advanced DirectiveAdvanced directives are necessary in addition to a will. An advanced directive is a legal document that states a person’s wishes about receiving medical care. Advanced directives are especially important for patients in hospice care who might not be capable of communicating their desires to care providers and medical professionals. If an advanced directive is on file, those desires will be fulfilled exactly as expressed when the legal document was created at the point when the patient was of sound mind. As an example, an advanced directive contains information about how one is to be cared for at the end of life while in a hospital bed or assisted living center. There are several different types of advanced directives. One such advance directive is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order that communicates one’s desire not to be resuscitated in the event of loss of consciousness or another life-threatening event. Another example of an advance directive is the Medical Power of Attorney. Also referred to as the Medical POA for short, this legal document explains how one’s medical care is to be provided toward the end of life. The medical power of attorney identifies the specific party who will make medical decisions on behalf of the patient.
Prepare a Living Will With an Estate Planning AttorneyA living will is distinct from the aforementioned legal documents as it details the medical treatments a patient desires after suffering incapacitation and at the end of his or her life. The living will is also used to communicate the forms of medical care a patient does not desire. This legal tool is different from a traditional will in that it does not communicate one’s desires for the distribution of assets. Examples of the desires communicated in living wills include:
- The use of feeding tubes if it is no longer possible to feed oneself
- The length of time life is extended
- The use of resuscitation if the heart isn’t beating