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Does your estate plan need a living will?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2023 | Estate Planning and Probate |

What are the hallmarks of a sound estate plan? Most people need at least a few separate documents to protect their assets, families and final wishes.

Of course, a last will is essential to any plan, and one or more trusts can improve the probate process for your loved ones. Unfortunately, many people overlook or dismiss how a living will can round out an estate plan.

What is a living will?

Many believe it is merely another way to say the final will, but the two documents differ vastly. Your regular will allows you to decide who gets your assets after you die. With a living will, known as an advance medical directive, you can retain control of your medical care in an emergency or if you cannot speak your wishes.

Two more potential advantages:

  • It may spare your loved ones from making difficult decisions about your medical care without knowing your preferences.
  • It may increase peace of mind over your healthcare if you become incapacitated.

You need not be ill or infirm to benefit from a living will. However, those with terminal illnesses often use it to inform medical professionals whether they wish to receive life-prolonging treatments when death is near or inevitable.

Is a living will enough protection?

Generally, yes, but there are other types of directives to consider. For example, a power of attorney for healthcare can allow you to name someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.

Including multiple advance directives may allow you to customize your healthcare according to specific situations (injury vs. disease, etc.). Experienced guidance and knowledge of Pennsylvania’s advance directives rules can help you add beneficial medical decisions to your estate plan.