Thinking about catastrophic injuries, life-altering illnesses and death can be uncomfortable or downright scary. Fear of these common life events often keeps individuals from planning for them. Still, with a comprehensive living will, you retain control of your health and end-of-life medical treatment.
A living will is a legally binding document that dictates to doctors the medical treatments and end-of-life care you do and do not want to receive. While drafting a comprehensive living will is a major step, you should review and update the document regularly.
A change in your family
Your medical wishes and end-of-life goals may change considerably after marrying your spouse or welcoming a child or grandchild into your family. If so, you should change your living will and other advance medical directives to reflect your new wishes.
A new injury or illness
You may not fully form your medical opinions until you are unwell. After all, if you have always been healthy, end-of-life care may be an abstract concept. If you sustain a serious injury or develop a chronic medical condition, you may need to rework your living will to make it better fit your situation.
The passage of time
Just as with a conventional will and other estate planning documents, you may not remember what your living will says and does not say. If more than a couple years have passed since you last reviewed and updated your living will, it is probably time to tackle the project again.
Ultimately, an outdated, inaccurate or incomplete living will may do more harm than good. Scheduling an electronic reminder to review the document periodically may give everyone in your family some peace of mind.