What Is a Living Will and How Does It Work?

Posted On August 16, 2023

Wills are important tools that can help you ensure that your wishes are honored when you pass away. There are several types of wills that can be used for different purposes. Many people understand that wills are used to transfer assets to beneficiaries. However, in many cases, in addition to passing assets to loved ones, a will can have other, additional advantages. Speaking to an experienced Brooklyn wills attorney can help you understand these advantages. At New York Legacy Lawyers, our attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of wills, including living wills, and can guide you through the process. If you want to learn more about how we can assist you with living wills and how they work, contact us today at (718) 713-8080.

A living will is one of the many different types of wills. A living will allows you to determine what steps will be taken to care for you if an illness or injury causes you to be in a vegetative or otherwise incapacitated state. While this is something most people don’t think about daily, it is essential to have a living will in place in case the unthinkable happens.  Here’s what a living will is, and why it should be important to you.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will states the measures and protocols you wish for doctors and other medical professionals to take if you are ever in a state where you can no longer make decisions for yourself, to include any instance in which you receive traumatic brain damage that prevents your body from functioning on its own accord. With today’s advancements in technology, the body can be kept alive for a virtually indefinite amount of time, even if the brain is no longer supporting its function — a living will states your wishes concerning what measures doctors should take in an attempt to keep you alive.

Life-Prolonging Treatments

Life-prolonging treatments refer to medication, blood products, CPR, dialysis, and surgery that can potentially save you and prolong your life when you are near death or are permanently comatose or incapacitated. A doctor has the power to declare whether you are in a life-threatening situation or if you are permanently incapacitated.

Treatments that are addressed in a living will also include chemotherapy, artificial respiration, antibiotics, and many others. It is possible to receive pain medication even though you refuse to receive life-prolonging treatments. Thus, if you would like to refuse pain management, you can include that in your living will. 

A living will also help your loved ones avoid having to make difficult decisions during a stressful and emotional time. Before drafting and signing your living will, it is important to do some research. Talking to your doctor, a spiritual advisor, or someone from your worship group about end-of-life care may help. You can also use many online resources available.

living will lawyer in Brooklyn

Advanced Directives for Doctors

An advanced directive for doctors is simply a list of directions for doctors to follow if you are ever declared to be in a vegetative state. An advanced directive can also be used if your heart stops beating and it’s determined that extreme measures must be taken to restore your life with no guarantee that you will be able to live a full and active life. Resuscitation is often possible but with no guarantee of the quality of life, resulting in long-term palliative care and a lower quality of life than one is used to. The advanced directive provided to doctors will contain your explicit instructions as to the type of care you will receive during these situations.

Long-Term Palliative Care

Long-term palliative care is designed to make you as comfortable as possible. Think about the care provided to individuals who are in a coma or vegetative state. The ultimate goal of this type of care is to meet the physical needs of the patient and keep them as comfortable as possible until they can be released from the hospital or they eventually pass away. Long-term palliative care can be costly and is often a burden many people would rather not impose on their family.

The Option for a DNR

One of the central premises of a living will is a DNR, or “Do Not Resuscitate” order. A DNR means that no lifesaving measures such as CPR will be taken if you pass away during surgery or any other course of treatment. The DNR means that you will not be kept alive in a vegetative state or forced to endure a lower quality of life if long-term palliative care is required (assuming you are brought back to life).

A DNR ensures that you will not be forced to live a life that is dependent on the care of others. You will also protect your family from the high cost of long-term palliative care that is required to meet your day-to-day needs.

Key Aspects of a Living Will Details
Purpose A living will outlines your medical preferences in situations where you cannot make decisions for yourself, particularly in cases of severe medical conditions or brain damage.
Life-Prolonging Treatments Addresses medical interventions like medication, CPR, surgery, and artificial respiration. Allows you to specify your willingness or refusal to receive these treatments.
Advanced Directives for Doctors Provides explicit instructions for doctors to follow in cases of vegetative states or extreme life-saving measures.
Long-Term Palliative Care Focuses on ensuring patient comfort and meeting physical needs during coma or vegetative states. Aimed at providing comfort until recovery or passing away.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Central premise of a living will. States that no resuscitation measures like CPR will be taken if the patient passes away during surgery or treatment.

Living Will vs Will

A living will is a legally binding document that specifies your healthcare choices, but it only comes into effect if you become incapacitated, such as being unconscious due to an accident. This type of advance directive covers a range of medical procedures, including decisions about breathing tubes, ventilators, feeding tubes, blood transfusions, dialysis, pain medications, organ donation, and CPR preferences (distinct from a do-not-resuscitate order). Creating a living will can provide your loved ones with the confidence to make challenging medical decisions on your behalf, knowing that they are acting in accordance with your own choices.

On the other hand, a last will and testament, often referred as a will, is a legally binding document that outlines your desired distribution of assets, property, and belongings after your passing. The individual who creates the will is known as the “testator,” and those who inherit assets from the will are called “beneficiaries”. You can name an executor in your will who will assume the responsibility of executing the instructions detailed in the document. The executor’s role involves distributing assets to the beneficiaries, settling outstanding taxes and debts, closing accounts, and handling other administrative tasks as specified in your will.

Through your will, you can allocate your possessions,  including real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and personal items, to specific individuals or entities of your choice. Additionally, a will allows you to appoint guardians for your children, dependents, or pets, ensuring their well-being and care if something were to happen to you.

Discover the difference between a living will and a will and how a Brooklyn wills attorney from New York Legacy Lawyers can provide invaluable assistance. Whether you need to clearly outline your healthcare preferences in a living will or secure your assets and legacy with a comprehensive will, our team can tailor a plan that suits your unique needs. Contact us to schedule a consultation and gain peace of mind knowing that your wishes and assets will be protected. 

Call Yana Feldman & Associates for Advice!!

There are many reasons why having a will is important for a person. A living will is unlike other types of wills and will allow you to have the final say in how you live out the rest of your life. It puts you in control of a dire situation before it happens. You will be able to live and pass away on your terms.

Yana Feldman & Associates offers sound legal advice that you can count on if you are looking to create a living will. Contact us to talk to one of our team members if you have any questions about how living wills work and what you need to have one created. We can help you!!