How to Discuss Living Wills with Your Loved Ones
Although it is a well-known fact that dying is a part of living, nothing is more awkward than trying to discuss end-of-life arrangements with your loved ones. Learn how to break the ice and discuss this critically important issue with your parents, spouse and others who are dear to you…
There is a natural hesitancy to avoid subjects that are painful, and nothing is more difficult than facing the idea that those closest to you will eventually die. Although not a comfortable topic, it is vital that you discuss end-of-life care and options with your family before you encounter a situation in which you lose control of medical decisions.
What is a Living Will?
A living will, or advanced directive, describes an individual’s wishes for medical treatment. For example, a living will may contain instructions not to resuscitate an individual should their heart stop. It may also detail to what extent you want to receive medical treatment and to what lengths medical personnel should go to keep you alive.
Without a living will, hospitals and doctors are legally obligated to take every step possible to keep someone alive for as long as possible. In some cases, this can result in years spent on a respirator even after an individual is declared brain dead.
Starting a Discussion on Living Wills
Ask any adult who has broached the subject of dying with their parents or spouse, and they will undoubtedly agree that it an awkward discussion at best. However, putting off this discussion until ‘later’ is a mistake that can have life-shattering consequences. No matter how young or healthy someone may seem, life is fragile and an accident or unexpected illness can occur quickly and with devastating consequences.
Below are some options to consider when starting a discussion on living wills:
Enlist the Help of a Doctor: If your parents are aging, end-of-life discussions should be a natural part of their medical care. Federal privacy laws prohibit doctors from sharing any medical information with you. However, it would not be inappropriate to call the doctor’s office before an appointment and ask if the physician could mention living will arrangements during a check-up.
Create Your Own Living Will: Many people avoid the subject of living wills because they feel that they may offend their loved ones; that by bringing up the subject, they somehow imply they are expecting their family’s immediate death. Rather than approach the subject from that perspective, you can change the tone of the conversation by creating your living will first. Then, discuss its provisions with your loved ones and ask if they have one prepared. If not, offer to gather the appropriate forms for them.
Be Matter-of-Fact: As mentioned previously, dying is a part of living. Everyone knows that. At the start of your conversation, acknowledge how uncomfortable the subject is, but explain that you want to be prepared for the unexpected. Convey to your loved ones that you are only asking because you love them and want to ensure their wishes are respected.
Once you have approached the subject, let the other person’s response be your guide. If your loved one is not receptive, don’t push the subject. Sometimes, people need time to think about the topic before they are ready to create a living will.
Most of all, never be…
Being heavy-handed about the subject is guaranteed to back-fire and will only serve to hurt feelings.
Where to Find Living Will Documents
While estate planning attorneys can assist in drawing up living wills, you can avoid the expense by creating your own. At FindLegalForms.com, living wills and other estate planning documents are available for your use. These documents are prepared by attorneys and meet all legal requirements.