A living will is a legal document that contains specific instructions regarding the life-sustaining treatment you wish to undergo in case you enter a terminal condition where you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
This medical directive contains a statement as per your wishes regarding the use of technology to sustain life when there is little or no possibility of recovering.
A living will may also appoint another person to make these decisions on your behalf, and should not be confused with a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR).
Avoid Family Arguments
Terminal conditions can lead to arguments between your spouse, your parents or adult children as to whether or not the treatment should be continued. This argument can also turn into a legal battle, with the decision being made after several months.
A living will containing your statement would prevent any such arguments.
Avoid Enormous Medical Expenses
The expenses involved in keeping a person alive in a vegetative state can add up to several thousand dollars per day; the actual cost depending on the type of medical equipment and care being used and provided. This amount tends to easily exceed a family’s budget.
Do not assume that your life insurance can cover these expenses, because there have been cases where life insurance does not suffice.
Unless you have a living will to clearly specify how long you wish your life to be prolonged, you could remain alive in a persistent vegetative state for several years. For example, Karen Ann Quinlan remained in a vegetative state for ten years.
According to the Washington Post, around 62 percent of all the bankruptcies filed in 2007 were due to extremely high medical expenses.
Loss of Privacy and Suffering
There is no way to clearly know what a person is going through while incapacitated. Their inability to communicate makes it worse for both the person and loved ones. You may be suffering from Lock-in syndrome, where you are able to see, hear and understand each and everything that is going around you, but are unable to respond; a truly frightening situation.
By having a living will ready for such situations, you will not only be protecting your own privacy and reducing your suffering, but also save your loved ones from the emotional distress.
A living will is the best way to state your intentions for a time when you may not be able to clearly state your wishes. It will protect you and your family members from a nightmarish situation, such as that of Terri Schavio’s. Terri had a heart attack at an age of 26 and she entered a vegetative stage. Doctors had to keep her alive by feeding her through a feeding tube. Her husband wanted her removed from life support, whereas her parents were opposed to the idea of assisted suicide. This conflict of ideas led to a point where a judge, who did not even know Terri, passed a verdict.
All of this can be avoided by preparing an advanced medical directive such as a living will.