Self-Help Advice on Living Wills

Written by Kara Stefan

Advice on dying and successfully executing a living will. This can help your family through a tough transition; emotionally, spiritually and financially.benefits of living wills

Two million people die every year in America, and about 70 percent of those deaths are the result of a decision to forgo life-sustaining treatment. 

Yet only about 20 percent of Americans have a living will. 

Life or Death Decisions:
Do you want to be kept alive by life-support machines?
Do you want to be fed through tubes?
Do you want to donate your organs and tissues for transplants?
Does Your Family know where your living will is?

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If you don't have a living will, someone else will decide whether to stop your life-support system, should you become ill beyond medical resuscitation. You must decide if that is a decision you want to hand over to someone else. 

"People can't have what they want if they don't talk about it," says Judie Rappaport, a managed healthcare expert and owner of Advantage 50 Plus Seminars and Marketing in Jupiter, Fla. Although the topic may be uncomfortable, the best time to consider how you want to die is when you're young and healthy and death isn't just around the corner. 

When considering setting up a living will, communicate your wishes to your family and friends so that it doesn't come as a shock; and enlist the help of a geriatric physician or caregiver to help you make an informed decision. 

Your living will only goes into effect when you're too sick or injured to speak for yourself and doctors believe you will die without the use of machines or aggressive treatment. If there is a reasonable chance that you can be restored to health, your living will won't kick in. 

The living will lets the people caring for you know exactly what you would want, so they don't have to play a painful guessing game. A written document is the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed. But be certain to store your living will where it is easily accessible -- not in a safety deposit box, for example.

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Kara Stefan is a Virginia-based writer who specializes in personal finance and consumer investment issues.

Twitter: @SuccessTV

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