Do you need a living will?

The living will is the document in which you make decisions regarding end of life care – “pull the plug.” If you are in a persistent vegetative state, irreversible coma, or have some other terminal condition and have no reasonable hope of recovery, do you want to be kept alive artificially with feeding tubes artificially? Do you want to be resuscitated if you have a heart attack? Making these important decisions ahead of time is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your loved ones. We’ve seen many a family torn apart because these decisions weren’t made ahead of time and one family member was left with the burden to decide to keep or withdraw medical support. Don’t force your loved ones to make such a difficult decision without your input.

Sadly, Terri Schivo become the poster child for why you need a living will. Mrs. Schivo was a mere 27 years old when she had a heart attack that left her in a persistent vegetative state. In the years that followed her heart attack, her parents claimed she wanted to be kept alive while her husband fought to withdraw the artificial life support. For 15 agonizing years, Mrs. Schivo was kept alive via feeding tube and hydration while the court battle between her parents and husband raged. Finally, after trial, 14 appeals in state court, and five separate federal court cases, a federal court finally sided with her husband and ordered that Mrs. Schivo’s life support could be ceased. Mrs. Schivo passed away shortly after, leaving her family in ruins: her parents had fought with her husband for years and they both spent incredibly large sums of money in the process. All that because Mrs. Schivo simply did not have a living will. You have the chance to save your loved ones from this tremendous heartache by creating a living will as part of your comprehensive estate plan.

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