When most think about estate planning, they focus on the elements that come into effect after their death. However, in certain circumstances, aspects of your estate plan may be relevant while you are still alive.

An example of this is a living will. According to US News & World Report, a living will is a document that outlines your medical wishes in the event that injury or illness incapacitates you.

Do I need a living will?

This depends on how strongly you feel about life-saving measures on your person. For instance, if you have severe dementia or have been in a terrible car accident, a living will can outline how you wish your cognizant successors to deal with the situation.

You should also consider family dynamics. If you believe your incapacitation would cause serious strife in your family, having a living will makes the situation easier on your family members by providing a blueprint for them to follow. Particularly if you have differing beliefs from your family regarding resuscitation, a living will is necessary.

What should I put in a living will?

In addition to instructions regarding resuscitation, you may also wish to elaborate on your desires on tissue or organ donation. Living wills can also include instructions for palliative care. A living will is also usually coupled with power of attorney documents and health care proxy documents. This means that you can choose ahead of time who will potentially be making decisions not only regarding your health, but also your assets and other financial responsibilities.

In essence, you can customize a living will for your particular beliefs, desires, and situation.