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The Advantages of a Living Will or Medical Directive

The use of a living will with a medical directive can help many Massachusetts residents in their estate planning. By giving another person a power of attorney, it enables the attorney-in-fact to carry out an individual’s wishes in the event that he or she becomes unable to do so. Ideally, the person who is designated as the attorney-in-fact will not be part of the grantor’s medical team and can discuss end-of-life situations in a mature manner.

A living will states what type of treatment an individual would like and when to stop administering such treatment. A health care agent or advocate may be able to use this document to determine whether or not to approve tube feeding or dialysis. It may also be possible to use this document to determine whether medication should be given to extend an individual’s life. It may be worthwhile to discuss such medical decisions with a doctor prior to creating a living will.

With or without a living will, an individual may declare when or whether to resuscitate in the event that he or she is unable to make that choice. It may also be possible to declare when or if to intubate. However, a doctor should put that order into writing, and it should be included in a living will if an individual has one.

Talking to an estate planning attorney may make it easier to create an effective and comprehensive living will. An attorney may be able to create the proper forms as well as keep them updated as needed. In the event that a legal challenge is filed against any part of a medical directive or living will, an attorney may be able to help dispute the challenge in court.

Source: Mayo Clinic , “Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions“, November 25, 2014

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