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What Is a Living Will?

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					WHAT IS A
LIVING WILL?
    A Closer Look at a Living Will –
   Its Different Types, Its Purpose –
 and Why It Should Be a Part of Every
       Comprehensive Estate Plan




            By Larry Parman
     OKLAHOMA ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY
   There are various different legally binding devices used in the field of estate
   planning. If you are a layperson it can all get rather confusing, especially if you
   are new to the subject.

   To complicate things further, some of the terms are overlapping. For example,
   there are different types of wills and trusts.

   With this in mind, we will be looking at living wills in this report.

   DIFFERENT TYPES OF WILLS

   If you hear the term “will” as it applies to estate planning, you probably think of
   the last will or last will and testament. This is a legal device that is commonly
   used to state your final wishes with regard to the transfer of your assets.

   The assets in question remain in your possession throughout your life. After you
   die, the assets are distributed to the heirs according to your wishes as stated in
   the last will.

   There is another type of will that is less understood called an ethical will. These
   wills have been used since biblical times, but they are not legally binding.

   An ethical will is used to leave behind moral and spiritual values for the benefit
   of your loved ones. This can be quite a gift to share with those that you care
   about.

   There is also a type of will called a living will.

   A living will is an advance directive for health care. This type of will has nothing
   to do with the transfer of monetary assets.

   With a living will you record your preferences regarding the utilization of life-
   support measures such as artificial nutrition and respiration.



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                                               Physicians may be able to keep you
                                               alive for an indefinite period of time
                                               when you cannot communicate, even
                                               if there is no hope of recovery. How
                                               would you like doctors to proceed
                                               under these circumstances?

                                               Would you want to be kept alive for
                                               months, years, or decades through
                                               the utilization of artificial measures?

   You can answer this question when you execute your living will.

   CONSEQUENCES OF INACTION

   If you do not take the time to execute a living will, negative consequences could
   come about if you were to become incapacitated and unable to communicate.

   Your closest relative would be asked to make decisions about the utilization of
   life support. This is a very personal question. Putting a matter of life and death
   in the hands of someone else is rather unfair.

   Imagine the excruciating position that a loved one would be placed in if he or
   she had to make this decision without knowing exactly how you would have
   wanted to proceed.




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   Even if the individual who was forced to
   make a decision found it to be an easy
   one, what about other members of the
   family? Everyone may not agree with
   regard to the proper course of action.

   As a result, there can be acrimony among
   family     members.   Infighting   among
   members of the same family is never a
   good         thing.   However,      under
   circumstances such as these, family
   members should be supporting one
   another. This is not a time for arguments,
   finger-pointing, and division.

   If you execute a living will, you can make
   sure that there is no cause for disagreements among your loved ones. In addition
   to this, you can rest assured that your own choices will hold sway if these
   unfortunate circumstances were to befall you.

   HEALTH CARE PROXY

   While we are on the subject of living wills, we should mention another advance
   directive for health care called a health care proxy or durable power of attorney
   for health care.

   The living will is largely going to be centered around the question of the use of
   life-support measures. Other types of medical decisions could become necessary
   due to scenarios that have not been addressed in the living will.




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   You could name someone to make these decisions on your behalf by executing a
   health care proxy or durable power of attorney. The decision-maker that you
   choose will be empowered to act for you if you cannot make decisions for
   yourself in real-time.

   CONCLUSION

   A living will is an advance health care directive. It is used to record preferences
   regarding the utilization of artificial life-support measures.

   This advance directive should be a part of every comprehensive estate plan. If
   you do not have your advance directives in place, contact a licensed estate
   planning attorney as soon as possible.

   REFERENCES

   American Bar Association
   http://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_aging/resources/consumer_s_toolkit
   _for_health_care_advance_planning.html

   Nolo
   http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/living-will-power-attorney-medical-
   issues-29536.html




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   About the Author
   Larry Parman

                               After helping his own family deal with a lengthy probate and a battle with
                               the IRS following his father’s death in a farm accident, Larry made a
                               decision to help families create effective estate plans designed to reduce
                               taxes, and minimize legal interference with the transfer of assets to one’s
                               heirs, and protect his clients’ assets from predators and creditors.
                               Following a dozen years in the investment banking and financial services
                               business, in the mid-1980s Mr. Parman formed a law firm that gives
                               families the peace of mind that comes from having created a premier
                               estate and financial plan.

                                 After forming his law firm in 1984, he offered a series of public and
                                 private seminars to inform the public about using a Living Trust as the
   foundation of a family’s estate plan. Today, Parman & Easterday is one of the leading business and
   estate planning law firms in the Midwest. The firm’s primary focus is on business and estate planning,
   elder law, asset protection, and providing effective estate planning solutions for clients. Today, the
   firm’s premier estate plan design is referred to as a Legacy Wealth Plan.

   Mr. Parman is a frequent guest on the radio and can be seen on television talk shows explaining the
   importance of proper estate planning. Prosperity Productions selected Mr. Parman as a featured
   speaker in a nationally-recognized educational video on Living Trusts. He is the author of numerous
   published articles on financial and estate planning matters and the co-author of two books, Estate
   Planning Basics: A Crash Course in Safeguarding Your Legacy and Guiding Those Left Behind in
   Oklahoma: Settling the Affairs of Your Loved Ones.

   Mr. Parman is a member and Fellow of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. He is also
   a member of the Oklahoma and Missouri Bar Associations, the American Bar Association, and the
   Oklahoma City Estate Planning Council.




                                    www.ParmanLaw.com
         OVERLAND PARK, KS                                 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
         10740 Nall Avenue, Suite 160                      13913-B Quail Pointe Drive
         Overland Park, KS 66211                           Oklahoma City, OK 73134
         Phone: (913) 385-9400                             Phone: (405) 843-6100
         Fax: (913) 385-9422                               Fax: (405) 917-7018

What Is a Living Will?                                   www.ParmanLaw.com                                   6

				
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Description: A closer look at a living will: its different types, its purpose and why it should be a part of every comprehensive estate plan.