Why Do I Need a Living Will?

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Why Do I Need a Living Will?

You have the right to make decisions about how to live your life—and how you want to be treated at the end of your life.

A Living Will is a document to direct your medical care when you are terminally ill or injured and no longer able to communicate your wishes. Improved medical technology and treatments now create a distinction between quality of life and living. It is essential to express your own desires for treatment at the end of your life.

In New Jersey, a Living Will is called an advanced directive. Your advanced directive includes information such as the following:

  • Designation of a healthcare representative: Your healthcare proxy has a durable power of attorney to make end of life decisions for you. Careful thought should be given to this appointment. Speak with your representative to be sure they are willing to take this often stressful job. Clearly discuss how and when you would like your life to end.
  • Instructions at end of life: Communicating with family members when you are terminally ill is difficult and may be impossible. Take the time now to thoughtfully consider how you wish to be medically treated. When the advanced directive is needed, you have peace of mind and some certainty. Your family has the comfort of knowing your choices are being carried out.

It is important to work with an experienced attorney to prepare your advanced directive. Your wishes at the end of life are deeply personal. A well-crafted advanced directive records your decisions in a way that professional caregivers can respond legally and appropriately to your wishes.

As noted by the Rutgers Cancer Institute, general questions to consider for your advanced directive include:

  • Who should make medical decisions for you when you are no longer able
  • Directions about what kind of medical and life-extending aid you wish
  • Instructions on comfort, personal care and who should be with you

Ensure your Living Will is available when needed. Be sure your healthcare proxy and close personal friends have a copy of the executed advanced directive. Inform your family where a copy can be found and clearly mark the file.

Your wishes may change with time. When they do, speak with your proxy and your attorney to ensure your Living Will communicates what it needs to when the time comes.

If you have questions about a Living Will or updating an advanced directive, speak with a skilled estate planning attorney serving Union County.



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