In New Jersey, a living will is known as an instruction declaration. This document explains your wishes about when you want medical care to extend your life, and what type of care you want. This document goes into effect only if you become seriously ill, suffer severe injuries, or are otherwise incapacitated.
What Is the Purpose of a Living Will?
The purpose of a living will is to inform your family, friends, doctors, and others about the type of life-sustaining medical care you want, usually in situations where recovery is unlikely.
Often, those with terminal illnesses call us to update or create this type of legal document. Of course, things happen, or some people become suddenly ill. We recommend everyone create a living will when they create their estate plan. These documents are also important because they prevent your children, partner or spouse from having to make this tough decision on your behalf.
What Types of Care Does a Living Will Cover?
Thanks to our team of attorneys, social workers, and our registered nurse, we can help you understand all the types of life-sustaining care that you need to address in your living will. We can answer any questions you may have, and provide support as you discuss these tough topics with your family members and create your living will.
Some of the types of care we will discuss include:
- When you would want a “do not resuscitate” order, meaning when you would not want CPR if your heart stops;
- Whether or not you would want to be on a ventilator or respirator;
- How you feel about tube feeding and other artificial nutrition;
- When you would opt for palliative care instead of life-sustaining treatment;
- Your views on organ and tissue donation
What Is Palliative Care?
Almost all the topics we discuss related to a living will deal with using “aggressive medical treatment” to keep you alive. Unless you specifically outline a different choice, you will likely receive palliative care (i.e., pain medication, antibiotics, artificial nutrition, and other treatments aimed to keep you comfortable) in addition to, or instead of, this aggressive treatment.
Palliative care is an important part of end-of-life care, and we can help you understand what this encompasses and what care you will receive even if you opt out of more aggressive, life-sustaining care.
After We Complete Your Living Will
We encourage our clients to discuss their living will with their family members. We also recommend making several copies of your living will to give to any concerned parties. You may want to keep the original with the rest of your important paperwork. However, you will want to give a copy to your doctor, your spouse, partner or other next of kin, and others who may need to make decisions on your behalf.
How Can I Talk about a Living Will with a New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyer?
At Bratton Scott, we understand the importance of having a plan in place before you need one. Give us a call today at 856-857-6007 to get started on your New Jersey instruction declaration. We can answer any questions you have about living wills, and help you create yours today.