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What Is It?
Living wills specify what health care treatment you want (or don't want) if you are terminally ill. This document lists exactly who should make health care decisions for you if you are temporarily or permanently unable to make them yourself.
Durable Power of Attorney
This allows your spouse (or anyone else you designate) to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become either mentally or physically unable to do so. Designate a few backups like children or siblings.
Trust, or Living Trust
A trust is basically a way of transferring your assets while you're still alive to an artificial legal entity. If your assets are held in trust, once you die, those assets are still "owned" by the trust -- and therefore don't have to go through probate. Instead, the trust divides assets based on your instructions.
Consider Your Options
Before putting everything in writing, answer these key questions:
- Do you want your organs donated?
- If necessary, would you like to be resuscitated?
- Do you want to be kept alive by life support?
- Do you want all pain alleviated, even if it hastens death?
- Would you agree to being fed/hydrated through a tube?
Name the Executor
Determine who you want to be the executor of this will (the person who will make all of your health decisions if you're unable).
Relationship to you __________________
Phone number _____________________
Get a Witness
Store Your Will
Give a copy of this file to your executor and witnesses. Keep copies in a safe place (computer desktop, file of important things) so they can be found easily. Make sure someone responsible and trustworthy knows where you’ve stored your important documents.
Make It Official
Don’t forget to call an estate lawyer to draft an official living will that can’t be disputed (this version might not hold up 100 percent if it were challenged). But with this version, your time with the lawyer will be much faster (think: low hourly fee).
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