J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Why is a living will needed?

The thought of creating a living will has likely crossed the minds of many Floridians. But even though many have a vague sense of what a living will involves, and have maybe even considered drafting one, studies show that less than 30 percent of Americans are currently in possession of a living will. It can be deduced, then, that most Americans underestimate the importance of having a document that shows a person's desires involving medical treatment.

First, it is important to have a clear understanding of what exactly a living will is. A living will is a document that lays out what a person's preferences are about medical treatment. These preferences are made know in case the person should fall into a state where they are unable to communicate their desires. The point of a living will, then, is to make it known to family members and doctors what the person desires to happen in the case of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness.

This is made known in the living will itself, while the person who is authorized to make medical decisions is named in what is known as a "health care power of attorney." Both documents are very important in ensuring that a person's desires involving medical decisions are fulfilled.

With these two documents, a person's exact preferences are made known, sparing family members from having to guess at what a person would have wanted. When family members are faced with this kind of dilemma, emotions run high and turmoil often ensues as families are left arguing over what to do. A living will not only makes a person's wishes known, it spares families from having to make tough decisions in emotionally troubling times.

Source: Huffington Post, "How to Create a Living Will," Jim T. Miller, Nov. 26, 2013

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