Many New Yorkers may have a living will and think they are all set in the event of their death. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. It may be surprising to know that many medical professionals do not even know how to interpret living wills. This can result in a person's final wishes not being granted, which means that drafting a will the right way is necessary if people want their decisions to be respected.
It is believed that many living wills are useless because they are prepared with overly complicated legal language that is too difficult to understand. Not only that, but many people sign these documents and then tuck them away in a safe place, never to be mentioned again. This makes it difficult for family members to know what a person wants when that person is facing death and cannot communicate final wishes.
In addition, many wills are created decades before they are needed. This can create problems down the road, since some people change their minds about their healthcare wishes. What they wanted in their 20s may change drastically by the time they reach their 60s and beyond, which is why estate planning documents should be reviewed at least annually.
Instead, the correct way to handle end-of-life situations is to appoint a power of attorney. This involves filling out the appropriate forms and talking with the chosen healthcare agent about healthcare wishes. A living will may include orders such as whether or not a person should be given surgery, drugs or respirators in a certain situation. The living will should also specify if the person wants pain management or food and water if the person is comatose.
Source: Bloomberg, "The Right Way to Craft a Living Will," Ben Steverman, April 9, 2013