A comprehensive estate plan should do much more than just direct the distribution of your estate assets after your death. In fact, a well-rounded and properly drafted estate plan typically includes several important components, all of which work together to protect you and your assets. Incapacity planning is frequently one of those components. Likewise, advance directives are frequently used as part of an incapacity plan. If you executed a Living Will as part of your incapacity plan, it might be time to update it. Toward that end, the Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft explain several common situations that should prompt an immediate review and potential revision of your existing Living Will.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that allow you to plan and make your own end-of life wishes known in the event that you are unable to communicate those wishes at some later time and/or appoint someone to make decisions for you. State law dictates which type of advance directives are recognized in a particular state. In the absence of an advance directive, you have no guarantee that you wishes will be honored nor who will make healthcare decisions for you.
Like most states, Indiana recognizes two basic advanced directives. An Appointment of Health-Care Representative and Power of Attorney allows you to name someone as your healthcare representative who will be able to make decisions about your medical care — including decisions about life support — if you can no longer speak for yourself.
An Indiana Declaration (Indiana’s version of a living Will) lets you state your wishes regarding life prolonging procedures in the event you develop a terminal condition and can no longer make your own decisions. The Declaration allows you to choose between Indiana’s Living Will Declaration, which allows you to state your preference for the withdrawal or withholding of life-prolonging procedures, and Indiana’s Life-Prolonging Procedures Declaration, which allows you to state your preference for receiving life-prolonging procedures if you are terminally ill.
Do I Need to Update My Living Will?
It is important to conduct a routine review and revision of your entire estate plan every few years to make sure it addresses your current needs and goals; however, certain events, or “triggers,” may call for a more immediate update of your Living Will, such as:
- When you become a parent. Life, or more specifically the importance of life, sometimes takes on a heightened importance when you become pregnant, making it a good time to update your Living Will.
- When your health changes significantly. For example, if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another serious disease. Knowing that your Living Will might be needed is reason enough to review it to make sure it reflects your current wishes.
- Before a scheduled surgery. People often execute a Living Will without giving the decisions made in it much thought. If you are scheduled to have surgery, that’s a good time to review your Living Will and really think about the provisions in it just in case they are needed.
- If your wishes change. All type of things can spark a dramatic change in your wishes, from a spiritual awakening to the death of a loved one. If you suddenly feel differently about the issues addressed in your Living Will it is best to make the necessary changes immediately.
- When you reach retirement age. Often, our views on things change as we age. Once you reach retirement age your views on medical treatments may also change.
Contact Indianapolis Estate Planning Lawyers
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about updating your existing Living Will, or if you need to create your first Living Will, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning lawyers at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.