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The benefits of having a living will

Adults living in Nevada, regardless of their age, may benefit from having a living will. Also known as an advance directive, a living will gives instructions to doctors regarding end-of-life care and eases the burden on family members who may have to make a decision on whether to keep their loved one on life support. A health care proxy who makes decisions for a patient in cases where they are incapacitated can be designated on the form.

When a person has a living will, it is not executed until two doctors agree that there is no chance of restoring the patient's health. Young people may need to have one just in case they are in an accident and are unable to convey their wishes to their physicians. It might also be important for everyone to have a conversation with their loved ones about their choices regarding end-of-life care so there is not any conflict when a decision must be made.

In addition to a living will, people also have the option of signing a do-not-resuscitate order. With this document in place, doctors will not revive a patient if their body naturally dies. This generally comes into play when a person stops breathing or their heart stops beating. Family members will not have to ponder how their loved one would have wanted to handle the situation when they have a DNR order in place.

Lawyers who concentrate on estate planning may help clients prepare these documents. Having one might protect family members against the financial burden of keeping their loved one on life support indefinitely because they are not sure what the person would have wanted.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Why You Need a Living Will - Even at Age 18", Amir Khan, Jan. 16, 2015

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