When working on estate planning, there are many things to consider. Most people focus on asset protection and distribution, but it is also important to think about what happens if someone is unable to make medical and healthcare decisions.

A living will is a legal document that outlines one’s preferences for certain medical decisions, and it should be a part of everyone’s estate plan.

Benefits of a living will

According to the Mayo Clinic, the directives of a living will begin if the person who wrote it suffers serious injuries, is terminally ill, has late-stage dementia, is in a coma or is near the end of life. It is more common among older adults, but it is valuable at any age in the event of a serious accident or other event that incapacitates someone.

Being able to decide on the type of life-sustaining care is one of the benefits of a living will. Having one also relieves family members and caregivers of having to make difficult medical decisions. Another benefit is a living will reduces disagreements among loved ones and healthcare providers.

What to include in a living will

The American Bar Association states that a living will allows a person to name the life sustaining treatments he or she would want. Living wills only come into effect in situations that affect continuing life. Some things to consider include tube feeding, ventilators, CPR and heart-lung machines. It helps to research end-of-life care decisions and discuss them with a physician in order to make the best choices according to the person’s philosophical and religious beliefs. A living will also outlines treatments that one would not want the medical team to use to continue life.