Many people in Arkansas, and elsewhere, think drafting a will is all that’s involved in getting one’s affairs in order. However, a standard will is not a full estate plan. End-of-life planning requires other documents, including a living will.
What is a living will?
Living wills are an integral part of a comprehensive estate planning strategy. They are legal documents that detail what should happen you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make decisions about medical care, finances or other life decisions.
For example, what should happen if the drafter is connected to life support? Should the family continue care or let nature take its course?
However, end-of-life care is not the only thing that a living will resolves.
4 things that should be included in every living will
Living wills are different than traditional wills in that they detail what should happen in certain circumstances while someone is still alive.
Read on to learn four things that should be included in any living will.
- Medical proxy. These documents also differ from appointing a medical proxy, someone designated to make medical decisions on someone’s behalf. However, designating a medical proxy should be one of the first elements of the final document.
- End-of-life care. If the details of medical care after incapacitation are not clearly spelled out, the medical proxy is free to make these decisions unilaterally. For example, should “do not resuscitate” be a standing order or only occur under certain conditions? When life support is necessary, how long and under what scenarios should it continue?
- Care of minor children. Who will take care of dependents in the event of incapacitation?
- Business/estate management. In the absence of a spouse or an estate or business manager, who should take up these duties and for what duration?
Everyone of legal age should have a living will. The above elements aside, a legally binding document need only be put in writing and signed by two witnesses before filing in Arkansas.