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How Important Is a Living Will and Why?

by Caldwell Trust

What Is a Living Will?

living willA living will or advanced directive is a document that states a person’s end of life wishes for their physicians and loved ones. This allows a person to make their preferences known before they are incapable of communicating them to others. There are a range of medical procedures that are commonly found in these documents and they include, but are not limited to: resuscitation, intubation, ventilation, organ or tissue donation and palliative care. 

Why Is It Important?

Many people have strong opinions about the procedures outlined by the Mayo Clinic and it is important for you to inform those close to you if you do not want any service performed on you. A living will is important for everyone, but specifically for those who have beliefs that will influence the course of action taken by doctors in the event medical attention is needed. It enables you to make decisions based on your values and the expectations you have for your quality of life in the event you are incapacitated. Detailing your beliefs in a legal document will protect you from being in a situation you would disagree with if you were able to communicate. 


What Can Happen Without a Living Will?

As noted in a Griswold Home Care article, the absence of a living will could result in years of legal battles if members of your family do not agree on a course of action, as seen with Terri Schaivo. At twenty-six, she suffered from cardiac arrest and lost function in her brain. According to her husband, she had expressed that she would not have wanted to be kept alive with a feeding tube, but there was no legal document supporting this. This forced the family to let the court system decide what should be done. If you have specific desires, it is important they be expressed in a document that will hold up in court if someone were to try and make a decision that differs from what you want.


Thinking about where you stand on various life preserving techniques should not wait until later in your life. If you have determined how you feel and have consulted with your health care professionals, a living will can ensure your wishes are carried out.


About Caldwell Trust Company

Caldwell Trust Company is an independent trust company with offices in Venice and Sarasota, Florida. Established in 1993, the firm currently manages over $800 million in assets for clients throughout the United States. The company offers a full range of fiduciary services to individuals, including services as trustee, custodian, investment adviser, financial manager and personal representative. Additionally, Caldwell manages 401(k) and 403(b) qualified retirement plans for employers.

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