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When Should an Elder Create a Living Will?

 Posted on August 28, 2023 in Estate Planning

b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled---2023-08-28T121031.056.jpgA living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that allows people to set down their wishes for the medical treatment they should receive if they become unable to communicate or make decisions for themselves. While people of all ages may create a living will, these documents can be crucial for elders who may be facing age-related health issues. When deciding whether to include a living will in their estate plan, elders and their families can work with an attorney to learn about their options.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

As a person ages, their health can become more unpredictable. It is not uncommon for older adults to experience serious illnesses or injuries that require medical intervention. By creating a living will ahead of time, elders can ensure that their wishes will be respected and followed when it comes to their healthcare.

Without a living will, family members and healthcare providers may be left guessing about what the elder would want in certain situations. This can lead to disagreements among loved ones and unnecessary stress during already difficult times.

Key Considerations When Creating a Living Will

With a living will, a person can decide how their medical treatment will be handled if they are terminally ill and cannot make decisions for themselves because of a serious illness or injury. The terms of a living will may apply in situations where a doctor determines that a person has a condition that will most likely lead to their death within six months or when a person is diagnosed with an irreversible medical condition that will lead to their death if they do not receive life-sustaining treatment. 

A living will may state that a person will only be given treatment that will provide them with comfort and allow them to die peacefully, or a person may ask to receive life-sustaining treatment and be kept alive as long as possible. Other instructions can also be included for the treatments a person does or does not want to receive.

There are several key considerations that may prompt an elder to create a living will:

  • Deteriorating health: If an elder has been diagnosed with a progressive illness or is experiencing declining health due to aging, it is important to have a plan in place for future medical care.

  • Prior medical events: If an elder has experienced events such as heart attacks or strokes, they may want to provide instructions based on how these issues have been handled in the past.

  • Mental capacity concerns: If there are concerns about an elder's ability to make decisions for themselves due to conditions like dementia or Alzheimer's disease, a living will can help guide decision-making on their behalf.

  • Desire for control: Some elders have a strong desire to maintain control over their medical care, and they may want to ensure that their wishes will be respected, regardless of what happens to them.

Talking With Loved Ones

Creating a living will is not just about setting down a person’s wishes. It is also an opportunity to discuss these important issues with loved ones. By talking about their end-of-life care and the types of medical treatment they want to receive, elders can help avoid conflicts among family members who may disagree about what should be done in certain situations.

It is important for an elder to choose a trusted person who can act as their healthcare proxy. This person will be responsible for making medical decisions for the elder if they are unable to do so themselves. A clear understanding of the elder's wishes can help ensure that this person can carry out their duties correctly.

Contact a San Antonio Elder Law Attorney

At The Law Office of Ryan C. Moe, PLLC, our San Antonio, TX estate planning lawyers help elders and their families address issues related to living wills and other advance directives. We understand the unique needs of older adults, and we are dedicated to helping them make informed decisions about their healthcare, their finances, and other issues related to their estates. Contact us at 210-861-6000 to set up an appointment and learn how we can help address concerns related to elder law.


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