In the field of estate planning there are many different legal devices that have similar sounding names, and it can be confusing for the layperson to sort it all out. There are living wills, living trusts, and last wills. In this post, we will clear up any misconceptions that may exist and address the definition and purpose of a living will in California.
Because a last will is used to state your wishes with regard to the transfer of your financial assets, you may assume that a living will does the same thing in a different way. In fact, this is not the case. A living will does not involve the transfer of financial assets.
A living trust is a vehicle of asset transfer, but that is a topic for another post.
A living will is utilized to state whether or not you would want to be kept alive indefinitely via the use of artificial life support measures if there was no hope of recovery. Living wills are also referred to as advance directives or advance health care directives.
When you execute a living will, you make sure that your own wishes are honored, and this is the most compelling reason to take action. However, in addition to this you are actually doing something positive for your family members.
Your next of kin would be forced to decide on life support issues if you did not state your wishes in a living will. It is incredibly difficult to make this type of decision on behalf of someone else with no input from that person. You can make sure that no one in your family is placed in this excruciating position by executing a living will.
In addition to this, what if family members do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to the correct course of action? We saw the type of acrimonious situation that can ensue under these circumstances with the case of Terri Schiavo that dominated the news a number of years ago.
You may recall that her parents and her husband fought a bitter court battle regarding the ongoing utilization of artificial nutrition efforts that had been keeping her alive for years while she was in a vegetative state.
There is no reason to take any risks when it comes to the matter of artificial life support measures. If you set up a consultation with a licensed estate planning attorney, you can make a living will a part of your comprehensive estate plan.
If you are ready to take action, we would like to invite you to contact our firm to schedule a free consultation. You can reach us by phone at 408-356-9200. If you would prefer to get in touch electronically, simply click this link and send us a message: Estate Planning Consultation Request.