A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your healthcare preferences in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It is important to note that a living will is different from a last will and testament, which is concerned with the distribution of your assets after your death. Furthermore, a living will should not be confused with a living trust, a tool used for managing your assets during your lifetime and after your death.
Living Will vs Power of Attorney
Though both a living will and a Power of Attorney (POA) are critical components of a comprehensive estate plan, they serve different purposes. A living will focuses explicitly on healthcare decisions, detailing the type of medical treatment you want or don't want if you're unable to express your wishes.
Conversely, a POA allows you to designate a trusted person (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 is essential to have both a living will and a POA as they complement each other and ensure your wishes are respected in various circumstances.
Examples of a Living Will
Your living will can specify a wide range of healthcare decisions, such as:
- 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 wish to receive or not receive pain medications.
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders: You can express your preference about whether or not you wish to be resuscitated if your heart or breathing stops.
- Organ and tissue donations: You can declare your wish to donate your organs and tissues after death.
A living will forms 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 Nebraska can vary based on the method you choose. Engaging an attorney can cost between $200 and $500, depending on the complexity of your situation and the lawyer's rates.
However, more cost-effective options are available. Online platforms such as Snug offer a simple and affordable way to create a legally valid living will. With Snug, you can create a living will for a fraction of the cost of hiring 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 typically 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 together in an estate plan.
Hiring an Attorney to Make a Living Will
While creating a living will on your own is possible, 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 Nebraska.
However, attorney services come with additional costs. If you feel comfortable creating a living will on your own and your healthcare wishes are straightforward, online solutions such as Snug can offer a cost-effective alternative. Snug provides an easy-to-use platform to create a living will that adheres to Nebraska's legal requirements.
Notarizing Living Wills
In Nebraska, 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 Nebraska are set by the state and can range from $5 to $10 per signature.
Witnessing a Living Will
Along with notarization, Nebraska law requires two adult witnesses for a living will. These witnesses must be present when you sign the document. It's crucial 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 such as Snug, it's essential to create this document as a component of your comprehensive estate plan.