In light of wills week this month (16 to 20 September 2019) we thought we would highlight the importance of drafting a living will when drafting your last will and testament.
What is a living will?
It is a document in which you give instructions to your medical doctor and your family that in the event of a serious injury or disease, that renders you in a coma or in a vegetative state that you do not wish to be kept alive through artificial means.
Reasons Why You Need a Living Will:
- A living will speaks for you when you cannot speak for yourself. For example, if you are in a coma and there is no reasonable chance of recovery, a living will can state whether or not you wish to be kept alive through artificial life support.
- Having a living will in place spares your loved ones from making the decision for you. It will be up to you if you want to remain on life support. This will also eliminate family members from arguing about the decision, with regards to religious views or any other factors they might have over the decision.
- The living will also let you have a say in what medical procedures and organ donations that you may want. This is especially important for healthy individuals, as their organs can be harvested and used to give someone else another chance at life.
- The financial burden on your estate can be very draining, being on life-support, especially when there is no reasonable chance of recovery. This is incredibly expensive. This might seem heartless putting a price on one’s life, but medical bills could be devastating for many families.
What a living will cannot state.
You cannot include instructions for euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide in South Africa. You are entitled to request for specific treatments to be withheld or withdrawn, but you cannot ask a doctor to end your life.
How to draw up a living will?
Drawing up a living will isn’t time-consuming, and while you can do it yourself, it’s always best to have an attorney assist you with the process. Your living will should be accessible, so it’s advisable to inform your family and your medical practitioners of your living will’s location and give them copies.
As with many things in life, people change their minds and we always recommend that you review both your Last Will and Testament and your living will on an annual basis or if your circumstances have changed.or any queries contact, Charmaine Schwenn on 031 – 003 0630 or email – firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can assist you in drafting both your will and living will.
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