Making Plans in the New Year

closeup of a living will

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2020 was unprecedented. We made plans, changed them, cancelled them and made new ones. We found telehealth for doctor’s appointments, Zoom for socially distanced family gatherings. This year, you may have a necessary project on the back burner calling for your attention which doesn’t involve any social distancing…creating a living will.

A living will, a type of advance directive, is a legal document which specifies your medical preferences. For example, it allows you to choose a person who will make decisions on your behalf should you no longer be able to do so. A living will is also a guide for doctors so they know if you want any lifesaving or life-extending treatments.

The truth is many profess they “do not want to be a burden” on their family should their health fail and they need assistance. This is one of the best reasons to consider it. Think of it this way, if you do not have a living will and you become incapacitated, unable to make your own decisions, your physicians will turn to your closest family members (spouse, then children) for medical decision making. This can place added stress on family members, and possibly cause undo strife within the family if there is disagreement over your treatment. Living wills also allow you to express what matters most to you at end-of-life and empowers a close friend or family member to advocate on your behalf.

Even if you have verbally expressed your wishes to your loved ones, it is not enough. When it comes to giving legal consent and permissions, especially in times of crisis, it’s not uncommon for people to panic or forget important information. Once you’ve put your directives in writing, only you have the power to change the parameters you’ve determined.

The specifics vary from state to state; however, living wills can be set up in a variety of ways: electronically, using a template, with or without a lawyer. There are many free and low-cost resources to help you navigate the process from beginning to end. Five Wishes, produced by Aging with Dignity, is a great tool to start.

Start the new year with peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. If you would like a free copy of Five Wishes, please call 772-567-5551 or contact us at

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