Want to find out how to help your clients complete a living will form in minutes? Get the info you need here!

No one wants to think about death, but even fewer people want to think about what will happen if they become incapacitated and can’t speak or act for themselves. This explains why two-thirds of Americans do not have a living will.

You can help your clients prepare by making the process of creating a living will as easy as possible. To do this, use a living will form.

You can also make it easier on your firm’s employees by automating the form creation process. Let’s start by creating some easy steps to help walk clients through the process of creating a living will.

Explain What a Living Will Is

A living will is not the same thing as a typical will. Most people are familiar with the will that they create to dictate what happens to their estate after they pass away.

A living will takes effect while the client is still alive. It dictates what their wishes are in regards to medical treatment. The doctors providing treatment are legally bound to follow the wishes as outlined in the living will.

Your clients may have heard of a living will and not realize it. Here are some other names that living wills are referred to by.

  • Advanced healthcare directive
  • Advance directive
  • Instructional directive
  • Declaration
  • Directive to physicians and family or surrogates

Why Do Your Clients Need One?

Most people want to think that the only people who need a living will are elderly. Except this is not the case. Anyone at any age can become incapacitated and need a trusted person to make medical decisions and directives for them.

Minors, or someone under the age of 18, will have their parents or guardians to speak for them. Anyone over the age of 18 needs to designate someone.

Terri Schiavo

If your client’s need more convincing, remind them of the tragic story of a woman named Terri Schiavo. At the age of 26, she suffered cardiac arrest that resulted in massive brain damage that left her in a coma.

After 8 years of no improvement, her husband had to petition a court in Florida for permission to remove her feeding tube. He was opposed by her parents, and what resulted was a 7 year long very public legal battle.

After being in a vegetative state for 15 years, Terri was ultimately disconnected from her feeding tube. This story is heartbreaking on many levels and should convince anyone to create a living will and spare their family this conflict and turmoil.

The Laws That Govern

Living wills must comply with the state’s laws in the jurisdiction in which the client resides. Otherwise, the living will won’t be enforceable.

How Is It Different from Other Legal Healthcare Related Documents

A client’s living will is going to dictate their wishes specifically when it comes to healthcare and end of life decisions. This is different from a durable power of attorney. This document lets a trusted party make decisions about their healthcare as they see fit.

An advance directive will combine the purposes of both of these documents. This gives someone the power to make decisions and carry out the client’s wishes as they see fit.

The one you use for your client may be dictated by your state.

The Main Parts to Create a Living Will

The main thing to address in a living will is what the directives are for medical care should the client become incapacitated. You should advise the client to think about what their values are. They should consider what they are ok with and what they aren’t.

For example, some people do not want to receive blood transfusions. While others don’t want to be resuscitated.

Advise your client that there is no right answer and everyone will have their own directives. Here are some other medical situations for your client to think about:

  • Do they want to receive CPR if their heart stops
  • Do they want to receive artificial nutrition if they cannot drink or eat on their own
  • If their kidneys fail, do they want dialysis
  • If in a coma, do they want to be put on life support
  • Should they get an infection, do they want antiviral or antibiotic medication
  • Do they want to die naturally or be the recipient of comfort care
  • Should their organs and/or body tissue be donated to another patient in need
  • Should their organs and/or body tissue be donated to science

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the possible medical care that a client has the potential to receive while incapacitated. Hopefully, what these questions do is open your client’s mind to thinking about possible situations and their feelings.

When the Living Will Takes Effect

Your client will need to decide when they want their living will to take effect and become enforceable. It is best to be as clear and specific as possible.

When It Doesn’t Control

There are times when doctors and hospitals physically can’t honor a client’s wishes. Your client may want everything done to extend their life as long as possible.

Doctors will do this until they are no longer able to continue treatment. If your client’s case becomes hopeless or a waste of resources then doctors will terminate treatment despite what the living will states.

Automate Your Living Will Form

Everyone wants to believe that they are invincible and will live forever. Except that life has other plans. A living will helps ensures that someone will receive the medical treatment that they want even when incapacitated.

Help your clients protect themselves and their wishes by filling out a living will form. Once you have your client’s answers, input them into your document automation software.

This will streamline the legal document creation process. This allows your firm to be more productive and organized.

Schedule a chat today and let us help your law firm implement document automation.