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Preventing family arguments through a living will

End-of-life care situations can become a very uncertain and confusing situation for a family. One thing a person can do to try to keep things as clear as possible in the event key end-of-life decisions come up for them is have a living will.

A living will is a document that sets out what a person wants to have happen regarding their end-of-life care. Such a document becomes controlling in the event that a person loses the ability to make care decisions.

In addition to allowing their wishes to continue to control the situation even after they are unable to express these wishes themselves, another very important role a living will can play is it can help prevent fighting among a person’s family when the time for end-of-life care decisions comes about. When a person is unable to make their own decisions when an end-of-life care situation comes about and there is uncertainty as to what they would have wanted, it could lead to fighting within a family over things like:

  • How to proceed. Families could end up getting into heated arguments over what care actions would be most consistent with what their loved one would have wanted.
  • Financial matters. Uncertainty and confusion related to end-of-life care situations could increase the financial implications such a situation has on a family. This could create increased financial stress in a family, which can create fertile grounds for arguments.

Now, many things can impact how much certainty a living will a person formed is able to inject into an end-of-life care situation. Among these are what terms the document contains and whether the rules for making such a document enforceable were followed when the document was formed. When a living will is unclear in its directives or is in an unenforceable form, it can leave the document unable to add the increased clarity into end-of-life care situations that it is supposed to. So, what guidance and help a person has when forming a living will can be a matter of high significance.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Living wills help avoid family fights on health decisions,” Kimball Perry, May 29, 2017

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