It's important to start by clarifying some common terminologies. A living will, also referred to as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your preferences for medical care in the event you become incapable of making those decisions yourself. It's crucial to distinguish a living will from a last will and testament, which deals with the distribution of your assets after your death. In addition, a living will is not the same as a living trust, which is a tool for managing your assets during your lifetime and beyond.
Living Will vs Power of Attorney
Both a living will and a Power of Attorney (POA) are essential components of a comprehensive estate plan, but they serve different purposes. A living will focuses specifically on healthcare decisions, outlining what kind of medical treatment you want or don't want if you become unable to express your wishes.
A POA, on the other hand, allows you to appoint a trusted individual (known as an agent) to make decisions on your behalf. This can include financial decisions, healthcare decisions, or both, depending on the type of POA you establish. It's critical 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
In a living will, you can specify a wide range of healthcare decisions. For example, you might include instructions on:
- Life-prolonging treatments: You can state whether you would 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 would 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.
Your living will becomes a vital 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 Mississippi 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 create 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 goes into effect when you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. This typically occurs when you are incapacitated due to an 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 together 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 Mississippi.
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 provide a cost-effective alternative. Snug offers an easy-to-use platform to create a living will that meets Mississippi's legal requirements.
Notarizing Living Wills
In Mississippi, your living will does not need to be notarized to be legally valid. However, having it notarized can add an extra layer of authenticity and may prevent potential disputes or challenges in the future.
Witnessing a Living Will
Mississippi 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 upon your death, or directly financially responsible for your healthcare.
Creating a living will is an important step in protecting 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.