What Is a Living Will

  • Apr 09, 2023

Let’s face it, talking about end-of-life decisions is a difficult and often emotional conversation. However, it is also an essential conversation to ensure that your medical care preferences are respected and followed in case you are unable to communicate your wishes. The Falcon Law Group, a well-known firm of estate lawyers in New Jersey, has been assisting individuals with this process and other estate planning matters for years. We understand how tough it can be to confront these issues, and that’s why we are here to help.

In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive understanding of living wills in New Jersey, including their importance and the role of a living will lawyer in creating one.

Living Will Definition

A living will, also known as an “advance directive” or “healthcare directive,” is a legally binding document that outlines your medical care preferences in the event that you are unable to communicate your wishes due to a severe illness or injury. The living will definition is straightforward, but it carries significant weight in ensuring that your end-of-life choices are honored and followed by medical professionals.

Why Is a Living Will Important?

A living will is crucial for several reasons:

  • It gives you control: A living will allows you to dictate the medical care you want or do not want to receive in specific situations.
  • It eases the burden on your loved ones: Without a living will, your family members may be left with the difficult task of making these decisions on your behalf, which can be emotionally and mentally draining.
  • It prevents conflicts: A living will can prevent disagreements among family members about your medical care, potentially saving them from legal battles and emotional distress.
  • It provides peace of mind: Knowing that your end-of-life preferences are documented can bring a sense of relief and peace of mind to both you and your loved ones.

What Does a Living Will Cover?

A living will typically covers the following medical care decisions:

  1. Life-Sustaining Treatments: You can specify whether you want to receive life-sustaining treatments, such as mechanical ventilation or feeding tubes, in certain situations like a terminal illness or irreversible coma.
  2. Pain Management: You can indicate your preferences for pain relief, including whether you want to receive palliative care or other medications to alleviate pain.
  3. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders: You can express your wish to have a DNR order in place, which instructs medical personnel not to perform CPR or other life-saving measures if your heart stops or you stop breathing.
  4. Organ and Tissue Donation: You can state your preferences for organ and tissue donation, specifying which organs or tissues you are willing to donate and under what circumstances.

How To Create a Living Will in New Jersey

Creating a living will in New Jersey involves the following steps:

  1. Understand your options: Research and familiarize yourself with the various medical care decisions you can include in your living will.
  2. Discuss your preferences: Talk to your loved ones and healthcare providers about your end-of-life care preferences to ensure they understand and support your choices.
  3. Put it in writing: Document your medical care preferences in a clear and legally valid format. New Jersey provides a standard form for living wills, which can be a helpful starting point.
  4. Get it witnessed: Your living will must be signed by two witnesses who are not related to you or beneficiaries of your estate. Alternatively, you can have your living will notarized.
  5. Share it with relevant parties: Provide copies of your living will to your healthcare providers, family members, and anyone else who may need to be aware of your preferences.
  6. Review and update regularly: As your circumstances or preferences change, revisit your living will to ensure it remains up to date and accurately reflects your wishes.

Role of an Attorney in Creating a Living Will

While it is possible to create a living will on your own, working with a living will lawyer can have significant benefits:

  • Legal expertise: An experienced attorney, like those at Falcon Law Group, can help you navigate the complex legal requirements for creating a living will in New Jersey.
  • Personalized guidance: A living will lawyer can provide personalized advice based on your unique situation, helping you make informed decisions about your end-of-life care preferences.
  • Comprehensive estate planning: An estate lawyer can help you develop a comprehensive plan that includes not only your living will but also other important documents like a last will and testament, power of attorney, and more.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that a professional has guided you through the process of creating a living will can give you and your loved ones added confidence and peace of mind.

To ensure that your living will is legally valid and accurately reflects your wishes, it is recommended to consult with an experienced living will lawyer, such as those at Falcon Law Group. Our legal approach will help you navigate the complexities of creating a living will in New Jersey, providing you with the peace of mind you deserve.

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