Estate planning involves understanding some key terminologies. A living will, known as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your preferences for medical treatment should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It is important to distinguish between a living will and a last will and testament, which addresses the distribution of your assets after your death. Also, a living will should not be mistaken for a living trust; a living trust is a tool for managing your assets during your lifetime and after your death.
Living Will vs Power of Attorney
While living wills and Powers of Attorney (POA) are both crucial components of a comprehensive estate plan, they serve different functions. A living will specifically deals with healthcare decisions, defining what kind of medical treatment you would want or not want if you become incapacitated and 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 vital to have both a living will and a POA as they complement each other and ensure your wishes are respected under various circumstances.
Examples of a Living Will
A living will can encompass a wide range of 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 for longer, such as ventilators or feeding tubes.
- Pain management: You can specify whether you wish to receive or not receive pain medication.
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders: You can express 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 becomes a 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 drafting a living will in Oklahoma can vary depending on the method you opt for. Employing an attorney can cost between $200 and $500, depending on the complexity of your situation and the attorney's rates.
However, more affordable options are available. Online platforms such as Snug provide a simple and cost-effective way to create a legally valid living will. With Snug, you can make 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 typically occurs when you are incapacitated due to illness or injury. It's important to note that 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 in tandem in an estate plan.
Hiring an Attorney to Make a Living Will
While creating a living will on your own is feasible, 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 Oklahoma.
However, attorney services come with additional costs. If you are comfortable with 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 Oklahoma's legal requirements.
Notarizing Living Wills
In Oklahoma, 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 Oklahoma are set by the state and can range from $5 to $10 per signature.
Witnessing a Living Will
Along with notarization, Oklahoma law requires two adult witnesses for a living will. These witnesses must be present when you sign the document. It's worth noting that these 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 part of your comprehensive estate plan.