Some people have strong opinions about what medical treatments they would like to receive, or do not want to receive, in the event that they become incapacitated. A living will is a helpful estate planning document by which a person can express his or her wishes in case this scenario occurs.
Over time, a person may change his or her mind about end-of-life care. If so, it is possible to make changes or updates to the living will.
Why a patient should review a living will
As people get older, their health priorities can change. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is a good idea to review a living will every ten years or so to make sure it is up to date and accurately reflects the person’s wishes.
Certain life events may affect a person’s end-of-life wishes and may call for updates of a living will. For example, a patient may wish to change the document after receiving a terminal disease diagnosis.
How a patient should update a living will
When updating a living will, it is important to be clear which is the new version that reflects one’s current wishes. The University of Michigan Health cautions that a person should not just cross out old information and write in the new. It is better to fill out a completely new document and destroy the old one. The patient should make sure doctors and family members receive copies of the new living will and discuss his or her wishes with them often to reinforce what it contains.
A living will is a type of advance directive. Another type is a health care power of attorney, which gives an authorized individual legal discretion to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual.