Estate planning can often involve complex terminologies and it's important to understand them before proceeding. A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your healthcare preferences in the event that you're unable to make those decisions yourself. It's crucial to distinguish between a living will and a last will and testament, which pertains to the distribution of your assets after your death. Additionally, a living will is not the same as a living trust, which is a tool used for managing your assets during your lifetime and after your death.
Living Will vs Power of Attorney
A living will and a Power of Attorney (POA) are distinct yet critical elements of a comprehensive estate plan. A living will is centered around healthcare decisions, outlining the kind of medical treatment you would want or not want if you become unable to express your wishes.
A POA, on the other hand, allows you to appoint a trusted individual, referred to as an agent, to make decisions on your behalf. This can encompass 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 serve complementary roles and ensure your wishes are respected across various scenarios.
Examples of a Living Will
A living will can include various healthcare decisions. For instance, you may include instructions on:
- Life-prolonging treatments: You can state 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 express your preference about whether or not 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 becomes a crucial 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 Kansas can vary depending on the method you choose. Hiring an attorney can range from $200 to $500, depending on your situation's complexity and the attorney's rates.
However, there are more cost-effective options available. Online platforms like Snug offer a straightforward and affordable way to create a legally valid living will. With Snug, you can craft a living will for a fraction of the cost of hiring an attorney.
When Does a Living Will Go Into Effect?
A living will goes into effect when you're unable to make your own healthcare decisions. This often happens when you're incapacitated due to 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 hand-in-hand in an estate plan.
Hiring an Attorney to Make a Living Will
While it's possible to create a living will on your own, hiring an attorney can be beneficial, particularly 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 Kansas.
However, hiring an attorney comes with additional costs. If you're 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 a user-friendly platform to create a living will that meets Kansas's legal requirements.
Notarizing Living Wills
In Kansas, your living will must be notarized to be legally valid. The notary public verifies your identity and ensures that you're signing the document willingly and without coercion. Notary fees in Kansas are set by the state and can range from $5 to $10 per signature.
Witnessing a Living Will
In addition to notarization, Kansas law requires two adult witnesses for a living will. These witnesses must be present when you sign the document. It's essential 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 crucial to create this document as part of your comprehensive estate plan.