Getting well-acquainted with legal terminologies is crucial when it comes to estate planning. A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that clearly outlines your healthcare preferences in case you become incapable of making such decisions yourself. It's crucial to distinguish between a living will and a last will and testament, which deals with the distribution of your assets after your demise. Furthermore, a living will is not the same as a living trust, which is a tool designed for managing your assets during your lifetime and beyond.
Living Will vs Power of Attorney
A living will and a Power of Attorney (POA) might serve different purposes, but both are essential aspects of a comprehensive estate plan. A living will specifically deals with healthcare decisions, indicating what kind of medical treatment you would want or not want if you become unable to express your wishes.
A POA, on the other hand, enables you to appoint a trusted individual (known as an agent) to make decisions on your behalf. This could include financial decisions, healthcare decisions, or both, depending on the type of POA you establish. It's essential to have both a living will and a POA as they complement each other and ensure your wishes are respected in various scenarios.
Examples of a Living Will
A living will can encompass a wide range of healthcare decisions. For instance, you may wish to include instructions on:
- Life-prolonging treatments: You can express whether you want treatments that don't cure you but can keep you alive longer, such as ventilators or feeding tubes.
- Pain management: You can specify whether you want to receive or not receive pain medication.
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders: You can indicate your preference regarding whether you wish to be resuscitated if your heart or breathing stops.
- Organ and tissue donations: You can state your wish to donate your organs and tissues after death.
A living will thus becomes a crucial component of your overall estate plan, offering guidance to your family and healthcare providers about your medical treatment preferences.
Cost of a Living Will
The cost of creating a living will in Arkansas can vary depending on the method you choose. Hiring an attorney can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on your situation complexity and the attorney's rates.
However, there are more affordable alternatives available. Online platforms like Snug offer a straightforward and cost-effective way to create a legally valid living will. With Snug, you can draft a living will for a fraction of the cost you'd incur to hire an attorney.
When Does a Living Will Go Into Effect?
A living will goes into effect when you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. This typically happens when you are incapacitated due to an illness or injury. While a living will outlines your treatment preferences, a Medical POA appoints a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. These two documents often work together in an estate plan.
Hiring an Attorney to Make a Living Will
It's possible to create a living will on your own, but hiring an attorney can be beneficial, especially if your healthcare wishes are complex. An attorney can provide legal advice tailored to your situation and ensure the document meets all the legal requirements in Arkansas.
However, hiring an attorney comes with additional costs. If you feel comfortable creating a living will on your own and your healthcare wishes are straightforward, online solutions like Snug can offer a cost-effective alternative. Snug provides an easy-to-use platform to create a living will that adheres to Arkansas's legal requirements.
Notarizing Living Wills
In Arkansas, your living will must be notarized to be legally valid. The notary public verifies your identity and ensures that you are signing the document voluntarily and without coercion. Notary fees in Arkansas are set by the state and can range from $5 to $10 per signature.
Witnessing a Living Will
In addition to notarization, Arkansas law requires two adult witnesses for a living will. These witnesses must be present when you sign the document. It's important to note that the witnesses cannot be related to you by blood or marriage, entitled to any part of your estate, or directly financially responsible for your healthcare.
Creating a living will is a significant step in safeguarding your healthcare wishes and providing guidance to your loved ones. Whether you choose to use an attorney or an online platform like Snug, it's essential to create this document as part of your comprehensive estate plan.