You would like to think that most people are aware of the need to plan for the future. Most people probably do recognize that they should have some sort of estate planning documents in place. They know that they have to arrange for the transfer of their personal property to their selected heirs after they pass away. Based on this, it would be natural to assume that the majority take action to at least execute a last will. Unfortunately, we know what happens when we assume anything. Despite these points, statistics tell us that most Americans do not even have a will.
Not having estate planning documents in place expressing your wishes with regard to the transfer of your assets after passing away is not a good idea. There are several reasons for this, and few people are aware of them or drill down a little deeper to address them.
One of these matters is the possibility of becoming incapacitated and unable to communicate important life-and-death medical decisions. If you think back to the case of Terry Schiavo that was so widely publicized several years ago you see what can happen when people do not address the possibility of incapacity. This young woman was kept alive via the use of feeding tubes for years while she was in a vegetative state, and she may have preferred another course of action. Eventually her husband did ask the doctors to remove the feeding tubes that were keeping her alive, but her parents adamantly disagreed with this course of action. A very public and acrimonious legal battle ensued.
This type of situation is exactly what a living will is designed to prevent. You express your own wishes regarding how you would want to proceed if you were in this type of situation so that you control your own destiny and your loved ones do not have to make such a difficult and sensitive decision on your behalf.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday