A living will is a document of many names. Some people in Indiana also refer to it as a medical directive or health care directive. Whatever they choose to call it, the document serves one primary purpose. If an individual becomes incapacitated and not a minor, it determines who gets to make medical decisions on her or his behalf.

Mayo Clinic points out that a medical directive also guides doctors and caregivers on the decisions that the individual would prefer. This may include non-resuscitation orders or even eventual organ donations. Many people believe that this document only serves seniors. However, even an 18-year-old may suffer an accident that leaves her or him incapacitated for the long or short term.

Benefits of a living will

All adults may benefit from a living will, especially if their family may disagree with some of their health care preferences. It may also prove helpful if the default person responsible for making health care decisions, such as a spouse, would prefer not to shoulder the responsibility. With an estranged couple, the individual may also wish to name someone else he or she has a more amicable relationship with.

Changing a living will

After putting a living will in place, certain life changes may make it necessary or wise to review the old directive. Here are some of these situations:

  • The passing of 10 years
  • Change to marital status
  • New diagnosis

If a person enters a hospital while still mentally sound and conscious, that individual may put her or his own medical directives in place against resuscitation or intubation. However, there is no guarantee that a person may have this opportunity when the time comes. This is why professionals recommend advance directives via a living will.

Note that a living will is only one part of the estate planning process. Individuals should also consider how a trust, will and power of attorney may serve their needs. They may also take a look at accounts with beneficiaries to more actively decide who gets bank account balances and investment accounts.