A living will is a legal document that allows people to state their medical care wishes in end-of-life situations if they become incapacitated. A living will is one of the most important documents we can create to avoid expensive, painful, and time-consuming disputes after we pass away. In Mississippi, living wills are sometimes called “healthcare directives,” “advance directives,” or something similar.

Discuss Your Living WIll With an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Thinking about end-of-life matters is challenging, but it’s an important part of creating a thorough estate plan. At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, our experienced estate planning lawyers can help you draft a living will that allows you to communicate your preferences and priorities should you become incapacitated. Having your wishes written down and validated in a living will allow you to protect yourself when you can no longer speak. Contact our Mississippi living will lawyers today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss our estate planning services.

The Benefits of Creating a Living Will

Trying to figure out what type of medical care your loved one would like to receive in an emergency or end-of-life scenario is difficult. For example, some people would choose not to be kept on life support if they are terminally ill and don’t have a reasonable chance at recovery. Other people may want doctors to keep them alive as long as medically possible using artificial means. If a patient’s family doesn’t know what type of care he or she would prefer, they may have to guess.

Trying to guess what a loved one would prefer can be emotionally challenging. It can also be the source of conflict among family members who disagree on what the patient would like to happen. With limited information, two family members can come to two different conclusions without knowing which one the patient would prefer. Making your wishes known clearly and concisely before an emergency can help you and your loved ones avoid this type of conflict.

What Does a Living Will Address?

A living will discusses various situations a person may encounter near the end of his or her life or in an emergency medical situation. In Mississippi, a living will is a legally binding document that provides your family members and doctors with instructions about how you would like your end-of-life medical care to be handled. A living will lets your family know what you would like to happen when you become unable to communicate your wishes. Some of the issues addressed in a living will include the following:

  • whether or not you would like life-prolonging medical care and what type of care you would like to be administered
  • whether or not you would like to spend your last days at home, if possible
  • whether or not you would like to be resuscitated using CPR
  • whether or not you want your doctors to stop life support if you are in a vegetative state or irreversible coma
  • what type of palliative care you’d like to receive to reduce your pain should you choose to forego life-prolonging treatments
  • whether you’d like intravenous food and water

Creating a living will also allow you to specify what type of care you would like based on your specific diagnosis. Suppose a patient has been diagnosed with mild dementia. He may wish to create an advance directive that stipulates what type of care he would like as the dementia advances. A living also allows you to appoint a health care power of attorney to make these decisions for you.

The Legal Requirements

Mississippi sets out multiple requirements for creating a valid living will. An adult must give individual instruction either in writing or orally. The instructions in the living will take effect only when a specific condition arises, such as being unable to communicate your wishes. If you would like to create an advance healthcare directive along with a power of attorney as part of your living will, the document must be:

  •  created by an adult or an emancipated minor
  •  in writing
  •  dated
  •  signed by the principal, or the creator of the living will
  •  signed by two adult witnesses

At least one of the adult witnesses cannot be related to the principal, or a notary public must sign the document. You can revoke a living will at any time. Additionally, if you create a later advance healthcare directive that conflicts with a prior one, the later directive will automatically revoke the prior one. Living wills created in other states are valid as long as they comply with Mississippi laws.

How To Create One

Before you start the process of creating your living will, it’s wise to make your wishes clear to your loved ones. If your loved ones have an idea of what your wishes will include in advance, it may be easier for them to accept the provisions in your living will, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them. We also recommend carefully considering what type of measures he would like to take in an end-of-life scenario. 

We understand that these are emotional decisions and can be challenging to consider. We can help you walk through the options you can choose in your living will, so you’re comfortable with what you have decided. One of our experienced estate planning lawyers will work closely with you to draft your living will. Even though creating a simple living will isn’t a complex process, it’s wise to discuss your wishes with an experienced lawyer. If you would like to appoint a healthcare agent to make decisions on your behalf, we can ensure that all legal documents are legally valid.

Contact a Mississippi Estate Planning Lawyer Today

At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, we believe that effective estate planning is crucial to our clients’ physical, emotional, and financial well-being. Creating a living will is an essential part of a comprehensive estate plan. Contact our law firm today to learn more about how we can help you create a living will.