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Do I need a living will?

One of the most difficult parts of growing older is feeling less in control of decision making. It’s important to you to retain your independence and make sure your voice is heard. This can be even more difficult if an illness leads to your incapacitation. Maybe you’ve planned everything else – you’ve written a will and planned your estate – why not make your medical wishes known too?

 

What is a living will?

A living will, referred to in some states as an advance directive, is a document used to make decisions about your medical care if you ever become unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate. A living will does not go into effect as long as you are still capable of decision making, but if you can no longer express your wishes, you will have already outlined which care you wish to receive.

What is in a living will?

You can make any number of requests in your living will, but the Kentucky Living Will Directive Act of 1994 allows you to make decisions in four critical areas:

  1. Choosing a health care surrogate or proxy to speak on your behalf
  2. Refusing or requesting life-extending treatments
  3. Refusing or requesting feeding tubes and artificial hydration
  4. Deciding if you wish to donate your organs

In Kentucky, anyone over the age of 18 can have a living will, but a living will is suspended during pregnancy.

Other considerations

While Kentucky outlines four important areas that you should include in your living will, you may wish to add other considerations as well. You can stipulate whether you wish to refuse or request CPR, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, hospice care, certain medications or virtually any other aspect related to your health.

Creating a living will

If you wish to create a living will, it is often helpful to speak to an experienced attorney. They can assist you in creating the document and guide you through any stipulations you want the living will to include.

Once you’ve created a living will, the Mayo Clinic advises you revisit it any time there is a change in your marital status, a change in your relationship with your care surrogate, a change in your health or every 10 years.

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