In the wake of the tragedy in Boston, it is more important than ever to remind people that estate planning, and specifically a Living Will, is extremely important. Most people I speak with believe that a Living Will is just for the elderly, or something your doctor makes you fill out before you have surgery. This could not be further from the truth.
A Living Will is a legal document used to express your wishes for life prolonging treatment. In Pennsylvania, a doctor must certify that you have an end-stage terminal condition that you will not recover from in order for the Living Will to become effective. This document will inform your care-takers of your wishes regarding pain medication, feeding tubes and even chemotherapy treatments, just to name a few. It will also name a health-care agent for you to deal with the doctors and make sure your wishes are fulfilled.
With the violence that has been occurring with more frequency, it is very important to help your loved ones and your medical care-takers know what your wishes are if you are unable to speak for yourself. Please start to have discussions with your loved ones about what your wishes are and memorialize those wishes in a Living Will.