When does a living will go into effect?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Although you may feel healthy and vigorous at the moment, the passage of time is bound to bring different health challenges. At some point, due to old age or disability, you might not be able to make medical decisions for yourself or communicate them to your doctors.

Fortunately, if you compose a living will, you can establish how you want doctors to treat you in different situations. However, you might wonder when your living will becomes active, as you may not want it to go into effect in every situation.

According to your level of incapacity

Your living will only kicks in when you want it to. Through this document, you may specify any situation that you want to address. Conversely, your living will may also limit itself to certain situations.

To take an example, you might want your living will to be active when you have no ability to communicate, such as being in a coma or a vegetative state. However, you might not want your living will to be in effect if you are awake, such as a terminal illness. You might even restrict your document from addressing instances of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease.

Addressing to life-prolonging treatments

Your living will could also explain what you want in terms of procedures that could extend your life, if you want any at all. Some people do not want to remain on a ventilator if there is no chance of improving their condition. Other examples include using a feeding tube and kidney dialysis.

Additionally, you might want to establish that you do not want efforts to resuscitate you if you die. A common example is using a living will to forbid cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Conversely, you could also explain that you want CPR and any and all procedures to try to revive you.

A living will is a flexible document that is supposed to reflect your wishes, so you should not worry about losing control of it. Like any estate planning tool, consider how you can place limits on it as well as establishing how and when to employ it.