Living will -- an advanced medical directive

Life is full of uncertainties. In an instant, a person can be seriously injured or killed in an accident. When a person becomes incapacitated, family members may find it difficult to make importance medical decisions, especially if the incapacitated person has no living will. Estate planning tools such as living wills ensure that everything is in order in case of unexpected life changes, such as a deadly accident.

A person with serious medical condition, for example, can make a living will and appoint an agent, usually a person with a medical background, as a health-care proxy. The health-care proxy can then make decisions on the person's behalf if the person becomes incapacitated or unable to communicate.

The living will should contain a clear statement about what the author of the will wishes to happen if the unexpected should occur. Living wills may contain instructions such as the removal of life-support or other medical directives. The will should be properly drafted to ensure that it will be enforced in accordance with the person's wishes. When appointing a health-care proxy, a person should choose an agent who can handle stress, always keep the persons' best interests in mind.

Aside from a living will, readers should also focus on estate administration and other tools to ensure that their assets will be distributed among their rightful heirs. It is important to consider tax ramifications when sending gifts to their loved ones. If they created wills and trusts, it is important to check them regularly and revise them if needed.

For more information about estate planning, readers may speak with a legal attorney for advice. A legal professional can help readers in drafting their wills and trusts to ensure that are legally enforceable.

Source: CNN, "Living wills and health-care proxies," accessed on Feb. 19, 2015

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