What Is a Living Will and Do I Need One?

In the state of Maryland, a Living Will is a component of an Advance Directive that outlines your healthcare instructions should you become incapacitated and can no longer communicate for yourself. Your Living Will is only used if you become incapacitated and it is necessary to determine your end-of-life care, which includes life-sustaining treatments. Should you regain consciousness or pass away, the Living Will is no longer applicable.

There are three end-of-life situations that you will need to specify what course of treatment you would like:

  1. If death is imminent or you are terminally ill,
  2. If you are in a vegetative state, where you have lost all awareness and capacity to move or speak, and/or
  3. If you have an end-stage condition that will require physical dependency, such as advanced Alzheimer’s disease.

For all three of these end-of-life situations, you will have to decide if and what life-sustaining treatments you would like to receive. Today, for example, it is important that you consider what treatments you would like to receive should you fall ill with COVID-19 and need to be put on a respirator.

What is the difference between a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney?

Medical Power of Attorney (also known as a Healthcare Power of Attorney) is a legal contract that specifies who you give authority to make medical decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated. The two legal documents are different because a Living Will outlines the medical instructions you would like if you become incapacitated and life-sustaining treatments are necessary, versus Medical Power of Attorney lasts only for the duration of you being incapacitated.

When creating an Advance Directive, you will need to decide on the medical instructions of your Living Will and the person you would like to give authority to make your medical decisions as your Medical Power of Attorney.

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament?

Last Will and Testament is an estate planning document that specifies how you would like your property and assets to be distributed after you pass. This is also where you may note aspects like who will be the guardian of your children.

Conversely, a Living Will allows you to outline your wishes and what medical decisions you would like made if you are still alive but cannot communicate for yourself.

Do I Need a Living Will?

We recommend that any person over the age of 18 should have an Advance Directive, which is comprised of a Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney. The reason being, you never know what may happen to you and it is always best to plan ahead to ensure your wishes have been heard.

Advance Directives also remove the burden of having your loved ones make medical decisions on your behalf. Most loved ones feel a sense of ease when they can follow the instructions found in a Living Will.

Our offices remain open and our team is able to remotely providing our full range of services during this time. Per Governor Hogan’s April 10, 2020, Executive Order, Maryland residents are now able to remotely sign Wills, Revocable Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives. If you need assistance, please call us at (410) 296-6777 or email us at staff@pathfinderlawgroup.com. To schedule a Zoom Video Meeting or telephonic, please visit Calendly here for Adam Zimmerman or contact Kelly Krumpe directly at kelly@pathfinderlawgroup.com.

About Adam Zimmerman

Adam Zimmerman is known for his unique ability to put people at ease. Within minutes of meeting Adam, his clients realize he is not the stereotypical attorney and is genuinely invested in helping them through their life situations. He is committed to empowering his clients to be decision makers in the process, so they are knowledgeable about the course of action they decide over their affairs.