A Living Will, sometimes referred to as a Health Care Directive, is a legal document that allows an individual to make known to family, friends and health care providers how their health care should be carried out should they become incapable of making their own health care decisions. A Living Will allows an individual to appoint which individuals should make important health care decisions for them. You can even record your wishes concerning life prolonging medical procedures and organ donation.

In June 2006, a symposium was held by the Army’s Wounded Warrior Project to discuss whether Living Wills or other health care directives should be available electronically to military medical field personnel.  During the  symposium, many examples were given of military medical field personnel preserving soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, in order to fly that comatose solider home so their family could say goodbye and decide whether to take that soldier off life support.  Unfortunately, many of these soldiers had existing Living Wills that contradicted the decisions these doctors had made.  The recommendations made during the symposium were to provide greater education to military personnel on the importance of having a Living Will and to provide military medical field personnel electronic access to a soldier’s Living Will.  Consider how you would feel if you had gone to the effort to create a Living Will only to have it ignored.  A Living Will is one of the most personal and sensitive estate planning documents we create.

Have you ever given any thought to how you would like your health care to be carried out and who should make those decisions if you were incapable of making those decisions yourself?  If you haven’t, you should!  It is important to contact a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney that can guide you through the complexities of creating a Living Will.

For the full story on the Army’s Wounded Warrior Project Symposium see the link below:

USA Today Story

For additional reading see the links below:

The Importance of a Medical Power of Attorney

The Medical Power of Attorney:  A Legally Binding Wishlist


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