Like most people, you probably created a Last Will and Testament as the foundation of your estate plan. At some point, you may also want to add a Living Will to that plan to ensure that your wishes will be honored regarding end-of-life healthcare decisions. Toward that end, the Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft suggests when you need a Living Will.
Advance Directive Basics
An advance directive is a legal document that allow you to plan ahead 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 your wishes will be honored nor who will make healthcare decisions for you.
Indiana Declaration (Living Will)
The State of Indiana recognizes two types of advance directives. The first is the e Appointment of Health-Care Representative and Power of Attorney which allows you to name someone to make healthcare decisions for you, including decisions about life-sustaining treatment if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The second is the Indiana Declaration which is Indiana’s version of a Living Will. This document lets you make important decisions regarding medical treatment, including end of life treatment, in case you develop a terminal condition that prevents you from being able to make those decisions in the future.
When Should I Create My First Living Will?
A Living Will is one of those estate planning tools that people often fail to execute because they are either unaware of the benefits of having a Living Will in place or because they are operating under the mistaken belief that they do not need one yet. The truth is that everyone should have a Living Will in place, without regard to your age, wealth, or marital status. There are, however, some life changes that really should prompt you to create your first Living Will if you have yet to do so, such as:
- Before a scheduled surgery –if you are scheduled to have surgery, that is an excellent time to create your Living Will and really think about the provisions in it just in case they are needed. As the old adage goes “plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
- 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 create your Living Will.
Remember to Update Your Living Will
You should take the time to conduct a routine review and revision of your entire estate plan every few years; however, certain events may prompt a more immediate update of your Living Will, such as:
- When your health changes significantly – for example, if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another serious disease. Knowing that your Living Will might actually be needed is reason enough to review it to make sure it reflects your current wishes.
- 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.
- If your wishes change – all types 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.
Contact Indianapolis Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating a Living Will, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.