Navigating the intricacies of estate planning documents can appear daunting, but understanding the terminologies can simplify the process. A living will, alternatively known as an advance healthcare directive, is a document that details your healthcare preferences should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It's crucial to differentiate a living will from a last will and testament, which pertains to the distribution of your assets after your death. Additionally, a living will should not be mistaken for a living trust, a tool for managing your assets during your lifetime and beyond.
Living Will vs Power of Attorney
A living will and a Power of Attorney (POA) are separate yet vital components of a comprehensive estate plan. A living will is focused on healthcare decisions, outlining the type of medical treatment you would or would not want if you're unable to express your wishes.
Conversely, a POA enables you to appoint a trusted individual (the agent) to make decisions on your behalf. This could encompass financial decisions, healthcare decisions, or both, depending on the type of POA you establish. It's important to have both a living will and a POA to ensure your wishes are respected in various situations.
Examples of a Living Will
A living will can specify a broad range of healthcare decisions. For example, you might include instructions on:
- Life-prolonging treatments: You can state whether you want treatments that don't cure you but can keep you alive longer, like ventilators or feeding tubes.
- Pain management: You can specify your preference for receiving or not receiving pain medication.
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders: You can express your wishes about being resuscitated if your heart or breathing stops.
- Organ and tissue donations: You can indicate your desire to donate your organs and tissues after death.
In essence, a living will becomes an integral part of your overall estate plan, providing 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 Connecticut can vary depending on the method you choose. If you decide to hire an attorney, costs can range from $200 to $500, depending on the complexity of your situation and the lawyer's rates.
However, there are more affordable options available. Online platforms like Snug offer a simple and cost-effective way to create a legally valid living will. With Snug, you can draft a living will for a fraction of what it would cost to hire an attorney.
When Does a Living Will Go Into Effect?
A living will comes into effect when you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. This often occurs when you are incapacitated due to illness or injury. While a living will outlines your treatment preferences, a Medical POA names a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. These two documents often work hand in hand in an estate plan.
Hiring an Attorney to Make a Living Will
While it's feasible to create a living will on your own, 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 legal requirements in Connecticut.
However, hiring an attorney comes with additional costs. If you are comfortable creating a living will on your own and your healthcare wishes are straightforward, online solutions like Snug can provide a cost-effective alternative. Snug offers an easy-to-use platform to create a living will that meets Connecticut's legal requirements.
Notarizing Living Wills
In Connecticut, your living will does not need to be notarized to be legally valid. However, notarization can add an extra layer of authenticity and credibility to the document, ensuring that you signed it voluntarily and without coercion.
Witnessing a Living Will
Connecticut 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 the agent of your healthcare decisions, and at least one of them should not be a relative or an individual who will inherit from your estate.
Creating a living will is an important 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.