Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Don't Forego Your Living Will

Healthcare proxyThe majority of seniors do not have a living will, also known as an advance directive.  “The ramifications of not having one are so severe that it’s bewildering that more people don’t do it,” says Howard Krooks, former president of the National Academy of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

This document enables you to communicate your health-care wishes in the event you become incapacitated.  Without a living will, loved ones must play a guessing game, and if they disagree, the problem could end up in court.  Not only are these documents important for older people, young adults should also put their wishes in writing.  At age 18, an individual should consider signing a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act release form and a health care-proxy giving a parent or relative the right to review personal medical information and make decisions in an emergency. 

Sometimes, an advance directive is not enough.  Those who are ill or frail and could pass away within a year could benefit from a “Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment” (POLST) form.  This is much more detailed than a DNR, for example, you can specify whether you want to be tube-fed indefinitely or not at all. 

See Speak for Yourself, While You’re Able, The Washington Post, Apr. 28, 2015.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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