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Five wishes to include in living wills in New Jersey

In our last post, we talked about the importance of living wills for same-sex couples in New Jersey. One of the concerns many people have with estate planning is not knowing how to express concerns to loved ones, or not knowing what information is more important to include.

A recent article in the New Jersey News Room talks about the five wishes individuals should through their estate planning documents. Although you cannot determine whether you become ill, using a living will can help control what happens if you do.

When you are creating your living will, there are five wishes you should consider. Answering these questions will help ensure your family is not left guessing about how you want to be treated:

  • Who should make health care decisions? If you become incapacitated, you should have someone appointed who can make decisions on your behalf. The person should be someone you trust and someone who has a good understanding of how you want to be taken care of.
  • What medical treatment do I want? With the medical developments that are currently available, there are numerous living-saving methods that can be taken to keep a person alive. You can decide what machines you want to support your life, or whether you would prefer to die when your body begins shutting down.
  • What pain medication do I want? There are numerous drugs that can minimize pain in your final days. Because some drugs come with other side effects, it is important to decide ahead of time what is most important to you, so your family isn't left debating about what you would prefer.
  • How do I want to be treated? People have varying opinions on how they want to be treated if they are incapacitated. Some people might prefer to have a family member with them at all times, even if they may not be cognizant of the company. Other people might prefer that their family members stop in for a visit but carry on with their daily activities.
  • What do I want my loved ones to know? Whether you have family secrets you'd like to make known or thoughts you'd like to reaffirm, communicating those in a living will can help ensure your loved ones know the most important information.

It can be difficult to think about these things ahead of time, but communicating your wishes with estate planning tools preemptively can prevent family members from fighting about it when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes.

Source: New Jersey News Room, "Livings wills: Critical for same sex unions," Carol Abaya, 11 February 2011

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