Insurance and Finance

Why Make a Living Will?

By Brian Kendall 4.10.17

When it comes to end-of-life care, or the “what if” conversation, are your friends and family aware of your preferences and beliefs? How do you feel about being put on dialysis, feeding tubes, or machines that breathe for you? It’s a conversation no one wants to have, but when it comes to your health and well-being, don’t leave your loved ones with guesswork — give them peace of mind with a living will. 

What is a living will?

Plain and simple, a living will is a document that outlines your preferences in the event that you cannot voice them yourself. For example, what are your feelings on artificial life support? Would you want to be put on a feeding tube or breathing machine? 

According to estate planning specialist Molly Baize, “A living will is a legal document that allows an individual to specify personal decisions for end-of-life medical care in the event they are incapacitated,” and typically addresses “language for the condition of the individual such as incurable or irreversible.” 

Living wills are normally created with two separate documents. The first is what’s called a durable power of attorney for healthcare, or medical power of attorney, which gives a person of your choosing the right to make decisions about your medical care — a representative of sorts. The second is the actual living will, with your medical wants and needs. 

Why should I create one?

“Without it, your family may not agree with each other regarding your end-of-life care,” Baize said. “As a result the court system may become involved creating unnecessary expense for your estate.”

These potential end-of-life decisions are some of the most difficult and important ones you or a family member could ever make. You want to make sure your desires in a situation like this are fully understood by everyone involved and that, ultimately, the decisions are left in the hands of someone you trust to carry out these medical wishes.

How do I create a living will?

Creating a living will is an easy, streamlined process in the state of Texas. As mentioned above, there are two documents you must fill out to ensure all your bases are covered. According to Baize, the first is a durable power of attorney for healthcare. “This document names an individual who makes healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are unable to and therefore will ‘fill in the gaps’ for a scenario not covered by a living will.” 

“Like many estate planning documents, it is possible to create your own living will from standard fill-in-the-blank forms or a software system,” Baize said. “However, to make certain your living will conforms to the laws of your state and that the language in your living will accurately expresses your desires, it is always recommended to seek the services of an estate planning attorney.”

What should I include in my living will?

A living will usually includes your wishes with regard to:

  • Medical treatments you would or would not want used to keep you alive
  • Pain management
  • Organ donation
  • Resuscitation
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Tube feeding
  • Dialysis

Before arriving at any decision, it’s important to research and discuss all options and seek advice from your physician and loved ones. 

While end-of-life care is a topic that is understandably avoided, it’s still important to make these plans in advance. Not only will it grant you your wishes should such tragedy occur, but it will also lift a heavy weight from the shoulders of your family and friends.

When making decisions about insurance, wills, and end-of-life medical care, it’s also important to consider just how much of a financial burden you might be putting your loved ones through, in the event of your passing. If you’re planning ahead and looking to make sure your loved ones are financially secure should anything happen to you, be sure to contact your local Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to learn more about life insurance policies

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualification and policy terms and may vary by situation. Life insurance products are offered through Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company. © 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance