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The purpose of a living will

A last will and testament is a legal document detailing your final wishes. It addresses the distribution of your Pennsylvania property, appoints guardians of your minor children and a variety of other considerations. You may believe that is the only document you need. However, a living will serves another purpose. At Sweeney Law Offices, LLC, we often assist clients in creating a comprehensive estate plan that includes end-of-life decisions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a living will is a legal document containing instructions for your medical treatment if you cannot communicate. Advance directives guide your caregivers and doctors if you are seriously ill, unable to make decisions or near the end of your life. It is not only the elderly who benefit from this document.

Accidents and unexpected events can occur at any age. A living will guides doctors if you are terminally ill. It also removes the decision-making burden from caregivers, as the directive makes your wishes known. It can include your preferences regarding feeding tubes and resuscitation and address the following end-of-life treatments:

  • Antibiotics/Antiviral medications – Aggressively treat infections
  • CPR – Restarts the heart when it stops beating
  • Dialysis – Manages fluid levels and removes waste from the blood if the kidneys stop working
  • Mechanical Ventilation – Takes over the job of breathing when the body cannot do it on its own
  • Organ and tissue donation – Specifies what donation you wish to make if any
  • Palliative care – Steps taken to keep you as comfortable and pain-free as possible while following your other wishes

There are numerous other treatments and issues for which a living will provide direction. A professional can help you decide what to include and a variety of situations to consider. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.