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What are the basics of a living will?

A living will can be confusing for many reasons, including the fact that this isn't actually a will. A living will is a legal document used to express your desire and preferences regarding health care in the event that you are unable to communicate instructions.

While it's easy to believe that you don't need a living will -- maybe because you trust your family to make key decisions on your behalf -- you shouldn't overlook the benefits of creating this type of document.

You can do many things with a living will, including directing medical providers to withhold treatment in particular circumstances. You can also use a living will to ask for any and all available treatment options in an attempt to keep you alive.

Due to the complexities of creating a living will, you may want to consult with a doctor before making any key decisions. If you don't know what you are opting for and against in regard to treatment, it's hard to make a confident decision.

A living will does not come into play unless a person is considered terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state.

These basics should give you a better idea of what a living will is all about, including how you can use it to your advantage. It may not be something you add to your estate plan, but you should at least consider the benefits.

If you create this legal document, it's much easier to realize that you will receive the right medical care and attention should you be unable to communicate.

Source: FindLaw, "Living Wills: Introduction," accessed Oct. 12, 2017

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