• By: Legacy Law Centers
  • Published: May 8, 2024
Living will prepared for a loved one: A legal document outlining medical preferences in case of incapacitation. - Legacy Law Centers

How To Retain Agency Over Your Life, Death, And Legacy In Virginia And Tennessee

As we age, we become more and more vulnerable. In our 80s and onwards, if we even make it that far, illness and accident can snatch us away or disrupt our lives far more easily than in earlier decades. But medical science also allows us to hold on to our life, freedom, and mobility far longer than in any previous century.

This creates a difficult set of decisions. How much do we want to cling to life? How expensive will our end-of-life care be? How do we balance comfort against recovery or longevity against dignity?

While the answer for each and every one of us may be different, one thing is clear: each of us deserves the right to make our own decisions and choices about them. But the only way to pass on with dignity and preserve a legacy that is truly ours is to ensure we get to answer these questions for ourselves.

The way to do so is by making sure that we include a living will among the other essential documents of your estate plans. With the help of an attorney, drafting and including a living will as part of your advanced healthcare directive is essential to maintaining agency over your life, death, and legacy

What Is A Living Will And An Advanced Healthcare Directive?

The term “living will” describes a fairly simple and straightforward document that outlines your wishes and preferences for end-of-life care or terminal illness treatment.

This document only kicks in if you are physically or mentally unable to make these decisions or communicate such answers to healthcare professionals. But if you do ever find yourself in such a situation, it is the primary legal method for communicating these preferences and ensuring that you alone get to make vital decisions about life-prolonging measures or resuscitation.

Your living will is an essential component of your Advanced Healthcare Directive, which more globally communicates your wishes and preferences for healthcare and medical decisions when you are incapacitated.

In addition to a living will, your advanced healthcare directive will include a Medical Power Of Attorney, a document that empowers one or more specific named and trusted individuals to make healthcare decisions about your health or treatment if you cannot.

What Role Does A Living Will Plan In My Estate Plan?

Estate planning is the process, or perhaps art, of preparing for your own passing with the help of an attorney. While it is most traditionally associated with drafting wills or preparing trusts to distribute or hold your assets after death, careful estate planning also involves caring for your own life, specifically how it will end.

By laying out your wishes and preferences for end-of-life or terminal illness treatment, your living will, and through it your estate plan, allow you to hold on to your decision-making power, your agency, over not just your death but also your life and legacy.

How Will A Living Will Help You Maintain Agency Over Your Death?

When Tennessee paramedics respond to an automated signal from a fall alarm in a lonely home in Nashville and find an elderly man who is no longer conscious or breathing, they are legally obliged to try and save his life. Even if he might not have wanted them to.

Unless he has a living will, which clearly indicates his desire not to be resuscitated in just such a situation. Without that, their failure to provide life “saving” or extending care might constitute abuse or neglect.

A living will gives you power over your own death in a way no other document or decision can. This is because it takes that decision out of the hands of others, be they doctors, paramedics, or family members, and keeps it solidly in yours.

How Does A Living Will Help You Keep Control And Agency Over Your Life?

Consider a different house across the border in Leesburg, Virginia, where a woman struggles with a chronic heart condition. She has all her mental faculties and loves to cook for whichever of her three children or seven grandkids she can convince to come over, but is worried her heart might give out.

Her living will might be very different; it might tell the doctors to do what they can to extend her life and give her a chance to see those smiling faces again. It is her way of declaring that she has so much yet to live for, and if her heart gives out, she is ready to fight to keep living.

The paramedics will know what to do when they show up at her home.

Life and death are inexorably intertwined, and how we feel about one is tied to how we feel about the other. But a living will may also influence how we are remembered and what we pass on.

How A Living Will Influences The Way You Are Remembered

Your life and death are certainly important to you, but their importance outlives you in the form of your legacy. What you pass on and how you are remembered by your family, friends, and loved ones are things you deserve to have control over, which is what an estate plan always aims to do.

A living will plays an essential role in cementing your legacy, not just because it influences the manner and timing of your passing according to your wishes but also because it can have an important impact on what you leave behind.

End-of-life, terminal illness, and life-prolonging treatments can be, among other things, incredibly expensive. Without a living will to indicate otherwise, such treatments could quickly drain the resources and assets you had set aside for beloved family members. Alternatively, if you and they are not concerned about mere financial assets, a living will help ensure that they are directed towards giving you the most time with those close to you.

Either way, you deserve to have that much more control over your legacy, and that means contacting a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney to ensure your estate plan and living will give you that power.

Reach Out To A Trusted Virginia And Tennessee Estate Planning Attorney

There is no telling when you might need a living will. You could be a 40-year-old father of three rolling down the highway between Virginia and Tennessee when an out-of-control 18-wheeler puts your life on the line or a lonely 80-year-old mourning your wife when the heart attack hits. It is too late, then, for either to tell anyone what they would prefer in terms of life-prolonging care.

But with the help of estate planning attorney Sam Mansoor, you can do it right now. So that when the day comes, whenever that may be, your agency over your life, death, and legacy is not taken away from you. Call (571) 260-0827 now to set up a meeting to discuss your living will or other estate planning documents and objectives.

Firm Logo - Legacy Law Centers

Start Planning Today!
(571) 260-0827

Accessibility Accessibility
× Accessibility Menu CTRL+U